Jack has now applied to 14 colleges, and it looks like that will be his final list. Here are his responses to questions I asked him at the beginning of the year.
Meet the Class is an opportunity for parents, educators, and admissions professionals to get a look at individual seniors and what they go through to find their college.
It’s updated each month from September to May. Each month will feature an interview about both the facts and the feelings of where the student is in the process.
Interviews may be edited lightly for clarity and grammar.
This is the fifth interview with Jack, a senior in the Houston area. He attends a public magnet high school.
Last month you said you'd been deferred by Yale when you applied early, and you seemed really happy about that. I'm wondering: why are you happy about being deferred by Yale? Is it simply because it's not a denial? Or did you have a change of heart about Yale? I've never heard anyone happy to be deferred, so I'm curious what the thought is.
Oh that's a great question! I'm sure that part of it comes from trying to maintain a positive outlook, because I was still disappointed that I wasn't accepted, but part of it also comes from a feeling of validation, because, to me, the deferral meant that I was still qualified to attend Yale for whatever reasons even when there were a lot of times where I felt like I might've not been.
At the beginning of last month, you were still very active in terms of submitting applications and deciding where all to apply. Where have you applied to this month? Did you have any more interviews or visits?
This month, I applied to Brown, Pitzer, Pomona, Brandeis, WASHU St. Louis, Tufts, and Wesleyan by the beginning of January, and then American, Occidental, and Oberlin by January 15. No interviews or visits, but I have a few requested / in-processing for Brown, Tufts, and I think a couple other schools.
I know that your Yale application is out there, and that you’ve interviewed with Yale. Can you tell me how your interview went? Where did you do it? With who? Were there any surprises? What was your state of mind throughout?
It was with a Yale alumus--a CFO of a coffee and beer distributor I think--and we did it at his office. The interview went OK; it wasn't great, and it wasn't bad either. I felt really nervous, but prepared, however, I kind of felt like my interviewer wasn't taking it too seriously. With the way the interview was unfolding, I got the sense that my interviewer was building off the premise that I was already a very talented and competitive applicant, since that's the type of student who applies to Yale, and that he would write up a great report no matter what I said. And that sucked a little bit because I felt like I was on the cusp of being an academically competitive applicant, so I really wanted to take advantage of the interview to highlight my non-academic strengths and convey some of the things I couldn't communicate as well on paper. My interview moved the interview in a way where he talked more about Yale than I could talk about myself, so I felt a little boxed in in a sense. Still, I was able to drop in a couple of my major accomplishments, and I think we developed a decent rapport, so overall, it was good, but it also could've been better.
What did you decide on Reed? I get the sense it’s either a top choice or not on the list at all. Did you figure out what was drawing you to it?
I think I was really drawn to Reed because of the their culture, which seemed super individualistic and intellectual and had a particular focus on the humanities and liberal arts. I also really liked that their idea of school spirit is grounded in these values rather than its being centered on athletics. I was also really attracted to the idea of Portland, which is a city that also seemed to value individualism and is reflected in its vibrant and omnipresent arts and culture scene which I really wanted to be a part of. However, I ultimately decided not to apply to Reed because I decided I valued diversity more.
Do you have any clear favorites at this point? What, at this point, is your “dream” scenario?
I love all of the schools on my list, but if I get into Brown or Yale, that would be really exciting. I care about a school's name-brand and prestige to some degree, but it's not a major factor I considered too much when I was building my college list; if I get into any of the schools I apply to (especially with good financial aid offers), my parents and I would be really happy. However, my parents don't have a lot of knowledge surrounding higher education here in the States, but if I get into a school like Brown or Yale, my parents would have an immediate understanding of how successful that is--whereas if I got into something like Pomona, it doesn't immediately translate into being successful, even when Pomona is actually harder to get into than Brown. Getting into schools like Brown and Yale holds a lot of weight in terms of validating the risks and sacrifices my parents have made in immigrating here and building a life in America, so my dream scenario would probably involve being accepted into one of these schools.
How was your break? Were you consumed with college work, or did you get to relax?
My break was great! I struck a good balance between being productive and having a good time, and I didn't feel too overwhelmed, especially since a lot of the essays and supplements I wrote for scholarships and colleges that I've submitted already were recyclable.
As of last month, this was your list:
U Houston (applied)
UT Austin (applied)
UT San Antonio (applied)
Wash U in St Louis
What changes have you made to that?
I added Brandeis to my list and ended up not applying to Rice!
Thanks for reading! There will be monthly updates from Jack through May. You can follow Jack and all the content on Apply with Sanity at the web site, Twitter, Facebook, and the monthly newsletter. Please share this with someone who would like to read it.