By Saeri Plagmann, Clarion Staff
What you will do after high school is a major decision most of us begin to dread as our high school career comes to an end. Many of us have dreamed of continuing our education at Ivy League, private, or overseas universities, but lack of faith in ourselves may make it difficult to put our college dreams into action. Other challenges such as finances and the distance from home also become barriers. Despite these obstacles, here are three seniors at Kennedy who have been successful in that quest and will be attending some of the top universities in the country this fall.
A four-year Kennedy PACE student, Allie Umemoto, was accepted into Scripps College in Claremont, California. Scripps is known to be one of the best liberal arts women’s colleges in the country, ranked within the top 100 colleges to have the lowest acceptance rate as of 2016 and 2017. Umemoto, who revealed that Scripps was not her initial choice in college selections, said, “I thought I had a good shot, but I knew going in college applications and acceptances were very hit-and-miss for all these very competitive schools.”
Upon receiving her acceptance letter, Umemoto stated that she was beyond surprised. “Most of the schools announced beforehand what day exactly the decisions were coming out, so you would have to wait in anticipation. But for Scripps, I just got an unexpected email to go to my portal and see my acceptance letter with confetti! Very exciting.” Umemoto went on to say that she plans to go into Scripps with an undeclared major. “Even though Scripps is a small college, I still have access to the other four Claremont colleges, so all of their majors are opened to me.”
An out-of-state acceptance was confirmed by May Tan, who applied to New York University, one of the world’s most influential research schools. “I didn’t expect to get in at all. In fact, I almost didn’t apply because I was so ‘heart eyes’ towards the school that I was afraid of the almost definite rejection that I would receive, and I figured it’s best to leave some dreams untouched than crushed,” admitted Tan. “My counselor, Ms. Anderson, being the angel that she is, hyped me up and encouraged me to apply anyway. And I’m sooooo glad I did!” When asked about her initial reaction to the acceptance letter, Tan revealed, “I remember running and jumping around my living room screaming my heart out. I had a smile on my face for days.” However, Tan ended up choosing Georgetown University.
Tan is interested in a career related to public services – something that allows her to leave a “positive impact on the world.” When she came to the realization of having an interest in politics and government during her junior year, Tan had looked into several schools that had her desired majors while leaving her with enough flexibility to do the things that she wants. Her research led her to discover the Science, Technology, and International Affairs major (STIA) offered at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Services. “STIA aligns extremely well with my interests in environmentalism while still allowing me to study government and politics,” she informed. Tan is committed to Georgetown University in Washington D.C., although her acceptance into NYU was “probably the best day of my life.”
Stanford, California’s most popular and extremely elite private university, accepted Autumn Luna to join their ranks. Being ranked number one on the colleges with the lowest acceptance rate in the Unites States (below 5%), it is understandable for seniors to be in “complete shock and denial” as Lu na had been. “I couldn’t even open the decision and kept saying, ‘I got rejected,’ as I had my best friend open it for me to tell me the news. I was in utter disbelief, and after immediately calling my parents, I vividly remember my dad saying, ‘pack your bags for Palo Alto,’ and that stuck with me ever since.”
Luna had never intended to apply to Stanford and was close to backing out. Applying required a 90 dollar fee, and she stated that her pessimistic instincts only made her worry about the possible rejection. “My robotics coach and engineering teacher Mr. Greene is the only one who pushed me to give it a shot because of the potential he saw in me, and his crazy faith that things might work out.” Luna plans to go into a career in the engineering industry, preferably aerospace. “I think the rapidly expanding technology for rockets, defense technology, and processors are just amazing and mind boggling.”
Acceptance into competitive colleges are rare occurrences, which is why some die to know as to how they ‘do it’. Luna said, “There is no right way to be successful. It all depends on the individual. Just put yourself first, especially in personal essays.” Tan, the future Georgetown student, advised, “Everyone says this because it’s true: take AP classes and actually try your best on AP tests, it’s going to save you so much time and money in the long run. Kids at the competitive colleges are taking so many AP’s now that it’s not even considered being ahead but rather just college basics you should know before you even get there.”
Having high aspirations after high school is a great way to boost self-confidence and motivation. Although plans may not always work out the way we would like them to, we have the ability to continue pushing ourselves to do great things. Everyone may make a few mistakes during high school or miss great opportunities, but we should consider applying to UC’s and other great schools anyway. There is always a chance that we will be glorifying in the excitement of being accepted.