It is no secret that applying to college entails a considerable amount of hard work. With all of the research, supplemental essays, school visits, networking, naviance surveys, and testing, the process can seem like taking on a full-time job. However, time has proven that what you put in is what you get out. We chose to highlight Brentwood School alumna and Emory freshman, Areanna Sabine, for this installment of the College Acceptance Chronicles, because she has proven that hard work truly does pay off. If you’re willing to spend the time researching programs and taking an inventory of self, you will be lucky enough to apply to a list of schools that all fit your criteria perfectly, just as Areanna did. A winning strategy, coupled with Areanna’s holistic approach, left her with nothing but amazing options and a fairy-tale-like ending at her dream school. We asked Areanna to share her experience and pass down some of her wisdom to the class of 2015…
RT: What was your biggest fear going into the college application process, and what helped you to overcome it?
AS: My biggest fear was being able to write an essay that embodied who I was. What I realized through the process of writing my essays was that I cannot write an essay that shows everything that I am. That essay would require volumes. But what I could do was take the most important parts of who I am and highlight them in my essays.
RT: What was your dream acceptance school?
AS: Did not really have one…I loved all the schools that I applied to.
RT: That’s wonderful to hear! Many students don’t have that kind of luxury. So, what did you do to prepare for your college application season and make sure you loved all the schools you applied to?
AS: I researched schools that had a lot of options that I was interested in academically. My academics were top priority for me and I knew that I wanted to go into the sciences. I looked at schools that had well-known science programs and also at schools that were less famous for their science. I thought it was important to know the differences between science schools versus non specifically science schools.
RT: It is very important to have that kind of information, so that you’re certain you end up at the right place. What kind of help did you get, and what would you say was the most helpful advice?
AS: I could not have been given better support from my counselors, parents and Rainbow tutors. My parents gave me support by giving me complete control over the different schools that I researched. My counselors at school really pushed me to look at schools outside of California. I don’t think that I would have chosen a school like Emory if I hadn’t been pushed out of my comfort zone. My Rainbow tutors showed me how to look at schools and evaluate how well I would fit there. I think the most important and helpful guidance I received was to look for a school that I would have a mutually beneficial relationship with. The school that I would end up choosing needed to be able to empower me and push me past my comfort zone. But I also needed to be able to benefit the school. I would be able to make a difference – no matter how big or small – at this school.
RT: It sounds like you had a great support system, and it’s so nice that your parents gave you that freedom. 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?
AS: Emory is a school that really has a lot of options and opportunities. It is a wonderful school to come to if you know what you want to do because it most likely has a club or some sort of activity for that. But Emory also is a great place for students to find their way. I would say that if you really have a desire to learn, Emory is the place to be.
RT: I know making that choice between Emory and the other schools you got into was tough for you. How did working with Rainbow prepared you for that?
AS: It was, but I’m confident I made the right choice. Working with Rainbow has given me a completely different outlook on how I view myself as a student and as a future professional. I learned to highlight my strengths and use them in order to succeed. I also realized that success does not come in only one form. Everyone will have a different path that takes them to different places and that is okay. I do not have to be the best in my field. I have to be the best that I can be. Rainbow has also taught me to find strength in my weaknesses. It is important to acknowledge that I have weaknesses because this awareness gives me a leg up on most people. Acknowledging weakness gives me an opportunity to work on my weaknesses.
RT: Right, because it’s never smooth sailing. We all struggle during this process. What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome while applying, and how did you overcome it?
AS: My biggest obstacle in applying was figuring out what I really wanted in a school. The answer to this obstacle for me was to apply to schools that had similar standards but portrayed them differently. I applied to large schools, small schools, schools in cities, schools in small towns. I allowed myself options in the types of schools that I applied to.
RT: Now that you’re in college, how has it been so far? Any surprises or insights?
AS: College is hard. No matter how perfect the school you have chosen, you need time to adjust. Being away from home, even for the most independent of people, is difficult and requires you to give yourself some slack. It’s okay not to do as well in classes or feel out of place with friends. It’s difficult but it is okay. Everyone is going through the same thing that you are going through and holding yourself to the highest standard could be more detrimental than you think. Do not put too many things on your plate.
Areanna was fortunate enough to get a jump start on her application by enrolling in Paving the Way to the College of Your Dreams before her senior year. The process that we lead students through in this workshop will not only inform their college exploration objectives and guide them through the pragmatic elements of preparing for admissions, but it will also serve as a catalyst for transformation and personal growth. Paving helps students identify that which makes them unique and compelling, equipping them with the tools to articulate their uniqueness in the most organic, impactful, and integral way.
If you are curious about this innovative and empowering workshop, and would like the opportunity to see what it entails, we are offering a one-day “teaser” Paving Program on Saturday, November 15th from 10:00am-4:00pm at UCLA. Freshman, Sophomores, and Juniors will get a taste of what’s in store for them should they choose to partake in the comprehensive Paving experience. Also, be sure to inquire about our “Paving the Way to High School” immersion retreat for students in the 7th through 9th grades as a precursor to the college program.
To get more information or to register for the One-Day Preview on November 15th or the Paving the Way to the College of Your Dreams in January, please email us or call the office at 310.892.0383.
It is never too early to pave the way, your way, to your future.