The College Acceptance Chronicles: How Does One Get Into USC?

By Cindy Chanin On February 16, 2014

I believe in the power of the mind and our ability to envision and cultivate our own personally-tailored version of success. The laws of attraction suggest that the more we celebrate and ruminate in success, the more success we will enjoy. So, given the very positive response I received from our last College Acceptance Chronicle, I decided to interview another student who has successfully embraced the notion of personal triumph:  garnering clarity and insight into all that she has to offer… finding the means of best articulating her assets, passions, and personal narrative to the schools that fit her vision… and gaining admission to the colleges of her dreams. Meet April Kacena, an alumna of Rainbow, who is now a freshman at USC. Below we explore her journey to college, the self-doubt she was able to overcome, and the shift in perspective that influenced her writing and approach to the application process. April shows us how grit, clarity of purpose, and meaningful mentoring relationships have enabled her to manifest success.

1. What was your biggest fear going into the college application process, and what helped you to overcome it?
I feared that I was being over-confident. I was worried that my good grades weren’t going to be enough to get me into the schools that I applied to. The thing that reassured me the most was personalizing my application essays. I let my grades speak for themselves and made sure that the rest of my application just exhibited my personality and passions.

2. What was your dream acceptance school and why?
I really loved both USC and NYU. Both are amazing schools with amazing programs for my major, and I felt that both were large enough to give me the sense of independence that I wanted. Ending up at USC, I think I made the right choice for myself. I love being so comfortable in the city around me. It’s helped me a lot during my first year – I never felt lost or alone.

3. What did you do to prepare for your college application season?
I kept my application in mind all summer before application season, but didn’t make myself work on it. I just let ideas come and go so that I had a lot to choose from during the fall when I actually began work. I made sure to come up with many separate topics to write about so that I wouldn’t have trouble with those extra supplemental questions.

4. What kind of help did you get, including from your counselors/parents/rainbow/etc. What was the most helpful advice/guidance that you got and why?
My main sources of help were my parents and Cindy, from Rainbow. My parents were there for encouragement and Cindy helped me to channel my ideas into brilliant papers that reflected my personality as well as my intelligence. It was incredibly helpful to have someone to help who already knew me so well and could confirm that my passions were exhibited in my essays.

5. If you were to give advice to someone who also wants to go to the school you were accepted to, what would you tell them?
USC receives so many applications, so my biggest advice is to stand out. I can’t stress enough how important it was for me to show how much I cared about my future and loved what I was doing. I think that my interview was one of the most important things in my application process to USC. It gave me the opportunity to show exactly how passionate I was about pursuing my goals at USC.

6. How has working with Rainbow transformed you?
Rainbow has given me the confidence to be more creative. Before I began working with Rainbow, my writing was very intellectual and safe. I was encouraged by Cindy to push past the boundaries of normal essay writing to make it more personal and comfortable. My writing has become more interesting and I’m able to stand out among others.

7. What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome while applying, and how did you overcome it?
Timing was tough. I started my applications earlier than most, and still felt rushed in the end to get everything done. Reminding yourself to work on just a tiny bit every week or so will help so much in the end so that you can enjoy your winter break.

8. Now that you’re in college, how has it been so far? Any surprises or insights?
College has been a whirlwind. I was surprised by how quickly my first semester passed.

Want to nominate a student to be interviewed by Rainbow, or have questions you’d like answered by a recent college admit? Join the conversation on our Facebook Page and Twitter, or leave a comment below.