Grace is a senior in Houston, Texas. She attends a public magnet high school.
The past two months I’ve begun with the facts and then moved on to the feelings. Let’s do it the other away around this time. How are you doing? When we last talked, you were feeling stressed. Is that any better? Worse? What’s going on in your emotions right now as they relate to school and college applications?
I don’t feel as stressed as I did earlier. Of course the whole ordeal is still a whirlwind but it is going along slowly but surely. School has stayed the same in terms of stress. Honestly, most of my stress is because of the time limitations I have with these colleges. ("Although the deadline is November 1st, submit it early so you can get your college ID," for example)
You go to a college prep magnet school, so virtually all the seniors at your school are in the same situation you are. What’s the mood of the 12th grade like? How do you think you compare to your peers when it comes to coping with applications?
Everyone has really prioritized doing their college apps, and we have been trying to weave it in our school work. For example, we had a school wide field trip on the 30th, and most of the class missed that day to work on applications. I personally went to the field trip because I had already submitted my applications to Baylor and UH for Nov. 1st.
What kind of support or help are you getting with your applications, either at school or elsewhere?
My counselors have been helping me get together what I need. They would email me on things I need to do by a certain time, as well as any other kinks that need to be smoothed out. Also, I have been asking people to read over my essays to gain their perspectives on what they get from the essay. I think it’s very helpful, especially when to you something may make sense, but to others it is complete gibberish.
Did you get the UT-Austin and Texas A&M applications sent out for by the 15th like you were planning? Have you submitted any other applications?
I was originally planning to turn them in on the 1st, but I feel as if my essays aren’t ready to be submitted. My deadline has been pushed to December 1st for both schools, but I have made November 15th my deadline so I would not have to worry about dealing with server overload issues as well as portal problems.
How’s your progress on FAFSA?
I finished FAFSA a while back, and it was honestly a much easier process for me because I got my mother prepared during the summer as to what information we needed, when and what to do. It was very nice to have gotten it out of the way, but I still plan on doing the CSS Profile soon as I complete my Nov. 15 applications.
Have you had any interviews? If so, how did they go? If not, do you have any scheduled?
I haven’t had any interviews but I am trying to plan one for Lafayette College.
Your application list as it stood a month ago was:
UT-Austin (top choice)
U of Houston
Do you have any changes to that?
I actually have changed it quite a bit. After attending a program at Lafayette in Easton, Pennsylvania, I have decided to make it my top choice school. It may not have my preferred major, but it does have a concentration minor which I can have. I do have some reservations about the makeup of the school, and whether I would be able to adjust to the lack of diversity, but it isn’t holding me back from applying as my top choice.
I have also taken Texas Tech and Swarthmore off my list, and have added Bryn Mawr. Both Tech and Swarthmore ultimately didn’t seem like a place I would like to be at, and I didn’t have the same fondness of the schools as I did to UT Austin or Lafayette. I have decided to revisit the idea of an all female school, and have decided that Bryn Mawr was a good choice.
Your list is almost completely full of Texas schools. That’s pretty common for Texans, and most people end up going to school relatively close to home. Tell me about your Texas focus. Why stay in Texas?
I think my reasoning for applying to so many is so I can have a variety of backups in case out-of-state doesn’t work. Of course there are perks like being close to home, being familiar with customs, but I have started to shift my mind to want to leave Texas. I am afraid of leaving (what if I can’t find good Asian food? Will I die from the cold?) but of course it is always a great experience to leave for college.
Have you done anything else college related this month? Is there anything I didn’t ask you want to talk about?
I am honestly starting to feel kind of rushed in turning in my applications, especially because people have started to get their acceptance letters to their colleges of their choice. I always see when someone posts that they have gotten accepted into a college, and I honestly can’t wait will I get that excitement as well.
Have you submitted any applications yet, either for an October 1 early admissions deadline, or just to send some stuff out early?
My first deadline is October 15th, for UT Austin and Texas A&M for scholarship priority. I have not submitted any applications yet because I'm still trying to gather all the information I need to complete the scholarship section on Apply Texas.
FAFSA has just opened up. How soon do you think you'll apply for financial aid? Do you have everything you need to complete that application, or are you still trying to get information?
I have started on my FAFSA and I am slowly getting through it. I am trying to figure out what kind of information I should be putting in, and just piecing through it each day.
Your college list as of last month was:
UT-Austin (top choice)
University of Houston
Do you have any changes to that?
I have taken out Occidental and have replaced it with Texas A&M. I have gained more interest since my interview with Posse and have decided to apply on my own.
How much money do you plan on spending on college applications?
I am a low income student so I am planning to not spend anything more than $100 on college applications in case they run out. When I first started applying, I thought that I'd be able to apply to as many as I wanted. I am requesting as many waivers as I can, but this does not affect who I'm applying to since I have not found a school on my list that has denied me of a waiver.
Which of your current list do you consider "safety schools?" How do you go about picking your safeties?
I consider schools such as UH as my safety school, mostly because of its acceptance rate and how cheap it is compared to other state schools. I choose my safety schools based on those two factors, more because if I cannot manage my other schools, I will be able to handle my safeties.
Do you have any deadlines, visits, or interviews in October? What's coming up for you?
I have a Top Tier college night coming up and I will be talking to some of the representatives from colleges from across the nation. I don't have any interviews coming up but I will be scheduling them soon.
What else, other than college, is going on for you in school? How are your classes? What extra-curriculars are you involved in this semester, and how much time and energy do they take?
I'm doing well in my classes, with the exception of Macroeconomics which is getting rather difficult to keep up with. I am still involved in Yearbook which hasn't started to take up much of my time, but I do expect it to gain momentum in the next few weeks. JSA hasn't taken too much of my time yet, and I am currently helping organize a huge event with other organizations for later in the year so my workload will increase once the date starts getting closer.
What else, other than school, is going on in your life? What other commitments do you have?
Since I started driving, I picked up two tutoring jobs after school for extra gas money. That takes up Tuesdays through Thursdays till 6, which isn't much of a hassle for me, since it's not far away from home.
How are you feeling about all this? Are you stressed? Are you optimistic? How are you doing?
I'm currently feeling stressed, because there's so much to do. I feel rather behind on my applications because I've been so caught up with my school work.