Angel (Class of 2027) is a high school senior who will enroll at Cornell University after applying under early decision. They plan on majoring in chemistry after researching and attending a virtual science fair at the university.
When you first started searching for colleges, what did you look for in a school?
I first put location as the first thing to look for. I didn’t want a school that was too far away, but also wasn’t super close. I also looked at academic rigor. I really wanted a college that was going to push me to challenge myself, and get the most out of me as a student. And lastly, I also looked for social life. I’m going to a college that [isn’t] super small because I think I thrive better in bigger environments.
Did you have any help coming up with that list?
At my high school when I was in my junior year, we did “fit factors.” [There would] be questions like, “On a scale of one to five, how far do you want to be? Do you want a smaller school, a bigger school?” It’s a lot of factors on social life, campus life, location, rigor, and whether it was a reach, a safety, or a match. Filling out questionnaires like that really helped my counselors at Breakthrough recommend colleges [to me].
What was it like working with College Admissions Specialist Annie? How did she help you with this process?
Annie really helped me [in] finding scholarships and writing a lot of essays. I would always send drafts I had of my personal statement to Annie if I ever needed help or wanted revisions. Annie would also help me stay on top of all of my work. I remember I asked her specifically if she could send me a text every week saying, “How are you doing with filling out these applications?” Whenever I’d see her text, it’d be a reminder of “Okay, I have to get back on top of this.”
How did you make your final decision about your college?
I applied early decision for the school that I got into, so it was pretty easy. I didn’t have to decide between any schools. When I [applied] early decision rather than early action, I committed to Cornell – it fit all of those factors I was looking for. It has great academic rigor. It’s definitely going to help me excel as a student. It’s not too far, but far enough where it’s a new environment.
Are there specific majors or programs at Cornell that really interested you?
[My professor] talked to me about this science fair that Cornell had that I attended virtually. It was a research lab at Cornell that worked in nanotechnology using a lot of biochemistry, which is something that I’m really interested in. I’m majoring in chemistry over at Cornell. After looking at all the research opportunities and their chemistry program as a whole, [that] led me to apply there.
What advice do you have for 11th graders who will go through the college application process next year?
My best advice would be to start early. I remember I was super stressed out in September, October, November because I hadn’t started focusing on supplements and my essays. Getting a head start on things like supplements is really going to help them have an edge over their college process.
[“Fit factors”] helped me because at first, I was super lost. Simple questions like “Do you want to be a subway ride away, a bus ride away, a flight away, or a car ride away?” can honestly really help narrow down a huge list of colleges.
Another piece of advice – I know at least for me and a lot of other students of immigrant families – there’s a lot of influence from parents, and it is a complicated matter. I’d tell every student to try to focus on themselves because at the end of the day, this is their four years and this is their education. I’d really try and push other students to study what they want to study.