My college admissions journey officially began during spring break of my junior year. I had a rough idea of what I was looking for in a school, thanks to a list hastily prepared months before that separated various criteria based on if they were “Needs” or “Wants.” My parents and I packed up the minivan and drove four hours to visit Binghamton University, a research university in our state college system. My parents instantly fell in love with the university and to some extent I did too.
Since I had no older siblings or relatives who recently went through the process, looking at colleges somewhat confusing, to say the least. I ended up visiting about fifteen schools in the time between spring break junior year and the end of summer before my senior year. I realized that visiting schools was really the only way to get a feel of if I should be there, especially when I started crossing schools off my list after visiting. I’ve always had a weird obsession with Boston despite living less than an hour away from New York City so my parents and I spent a long weekend touring several schools there. This was a lot of fun and I could really see myself living in the city. Going into senior year I had a pretty good idea of which schools I’d be applying to.
It was also around this time when I started narrowing down what majors interested me so that I could look to see if the schools I was applying to offered them. I narrowed down my interests to writing and journalism since I loved to write and always did well in English classes and something to do with computers since I loved my programming classes in high school.
It was also during this time that I began taking practice SATs and ACTs. I took the PSAT sophomore and junior year as required by my high school but my first true experience with the SAT was taking a practice SAT at my local library. After that, I knew I’d have to study and since I knew what sections I needed the most help on (mostly math), I started meeting with a tutor to help me stay on track with studying for both the SAT and ACT. I ended up taking both the spring of my junior year and then again the fall of my senior year. I also took SAT II subject tests in World History, Biology, and Literature since those were my strongest subjects.
I applied to about ten schools early action and they were a mix of state and private schools and ranged from as close as a thirty minute drive away to as far as Boston. Throughout the process I knew I wanted to stay on the east coast even though the weather in California and Florida was certainly tempting!
Then, on October 11th of my senior year, my parents and I once again packed up the minivan and took a six hour drive up to Syracuse, New York. I first heard of Syracuse University from my friend’s older sister who attended and loved it there. I also did extensive research before visiting and knew that their communications school, the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, was highly regarded so I signed my parents and me up for a tour of campus and a tour of Newhouse.
As we toured the campus I thought to myself, “So this is what college feels like.” I’m not a strong believer in gut feelings (preferring, rather, to over analyze and over think situations and more often than not drive myself a little bit crazy) but there was something about walking around Syracuse University’s campus that just felt right to me. I liked the traditional campus and the beautiful buildings surrounding the quad.
Then I got to go on a tour of Newhouse were they went over the different majors and opportunities offered. I knew that if I wanted to study communications this would be a phenomenal place to do that. After my tour of Newhouse was over I decided, completely on a whim, to ask if I could go on a tour of the School of Information Studies which had been briefly mentioned while I was on the general campus tour.
I was set up on a one-on-one tour with the director of undergrad admissions at the School of Information Studies (affectionately nicknamed the iSchool) and she gave me a tour of the building and answered my questions. I learned that Information Studies was actually a catch all term for learning how to effectively use large amounts of information and that it was different from computer science because students there were learning how to more effectively use technology instead of building the technology themselves. When I mentioned that I was interested in applying to Newhouse the admissions director told me that there was a dual enrollment option between Newhouse and the iSchool and it was possible to dual major in both.
I knew that the dual program was something I’d be interested in and when I went home I started my application to Syracuse, one of the two schools I’d apply to regular decision. I wished I could have applied early action to Syracuse but they only offered regular decision and early decision and I knew I wasn’t ready to commit just yet. I sent in my app about a month later and set up an interview in New York City. I interviewed with recent alum who worked there and it went well.
A month after my first visit to Syracuse University, I returned by myself to attend a two day retreat for high school girls interested in IT at the iSchool. I was able to learn more about the iSchool and all the opportunities offered to students. This retreat helped me to decide that the iSchool was definitely for me.
The months of senior year after finishing my apps went by in a blur and before I knew it I started hearing back from the schools I applied to early action. I definitely cried when I received my first acceptance, knowing that the work I put in in high school had paid off. As I began to hear back from more schools there was always a voice in the back of my head wishing that I’d just hear back from Syracuse already.
And then, on March 6th 2014, I received an email from Syracuse saying that my admissions decision was available. I excitedly opened my email and read, “Congratulations on your admission to the dual program in S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and the School of Information Studies, at Syracuse University for the fall semester 2014!” I was overjoyed. I immediately told my parents and we began figuring out all the other information I had been sent regarding scholarships and financial aid.
In the end I was down to three schools, Syracuse University, Ithaca College, and Northeastern University, and I visited all three one last time over the spring break of my senior year. I know I would have been happy to attend any of these amazing schools but in the back of my mind it was always Syracuse that stood out. When I sent in my enrollment deposit to SU I was a little bit nervous but also extremely excited.
As I write this from the fifth floor of Bird Library on Syracuse University’s campus I can honestly say that I made the best decision for me and in just my several short months that I’ve been here I’ve met some truly amazing people and learned some amazing things. I cannot wait to see what the following years here will bring. Go Orange!