Senior Alex Sadler has a very strict routine. Each day after school, he works out at 3:15 p.m., gets on his bus at 4:30 p.m., and arrives home at 5:00 p.m. After his arrival, he wastes no time. Sadler begins his first phase of studying at 5:30 p.m., which typically lasts about two hours. At 7:30 p.m., he rewards himself with a few YouTube videos or a TV show. But this “fun time” lasts for only 30 minutes.
At 8:00 p.m., he gets back to work. Some of Sadler’s classes include AP Physics, AP Statistics, AP US History, Pre-Calculus and Chinese 4. Sadler implements this strict routine because he understands what needs to be done in order to be successful in each of his classes. Why did he take such challenging courses in the first place? “To get into a good college,” he said.
At SAS, a schedule like Sadler’s seems commonplace. In fact, many students stay up until the early hours of the morning studying and completing assignments to achieve a common goal of getting into a good school.
“I take challenging courses because academic rigor looks good on college applications, and taking easy classes can be boring because you don’t really have to apply much thought,” said sophomore Cedrik Pauli.
This year at SAS, many students got into their reach schools, but unfortunately, some of our top students were rejected by their first choice schools.
Valedictorian candidate Kyle Chan was not admitted to Columbia University, his top choice. Speaking of the level of confidence he had while waiting to hear back from colleges, Chan said, “I thought I would have a pretty good chance seeing how last year a lot of people got into their top schools, so I thought I would too.”
Chan shared his thoughts after being rejected by Columbia University. “Waiting on my ED [Early Decision] was very stressful because I didn’t know what to expect and then I got waitlisted. And then after that, waiting on my other schools, my stress level wasn’t that high. But I learned to keep my expectations low because you never know what’s going to happen.”
Fortunately for Chan, his 4.3 GPA and SAT score of 2310 still got him into Northwestern, Cornell, NYU, and Carnegie Mellon.
Senior Justin Peterson, with a GPA of 4.03 and an SAT score of 2270, also had some heartaches this admission season.
Peterson applied to 12 schools overall and got waitlisted at five of them. Peterson did all the right things: great grades, great test scores, and a plethora of extra curricular activities. However, he applied to specific programs within colleges that were highly selective.
“For Santa Barbara, I applied to chemical engineering, and the program I applied to only admits 40 people a year. So it turns from a safety to a reach.”
Many colleges fail to clearly state the acceptance statistics of their individual programs. This can be misleading and confusing when students who appear highly qualified are not admitted.
Rohan Singh, one of the top students of the 2015 class, got rejected from his top school: Stanford University.
“Initially, I always felt like I have been on top of things, that I had a lot of things going for me. I have been on sports teams and debate and I felt like I had a really good application. Things have always gone well for me in high school, so I figured things would go well for me with my college application. So I’m usually pretty humble and tell people I’m not that confident, but I really believed that I could get into a school like that. After I didn’t get into Stanford early, my confidence obviously took a hit, and I started to think about things more realistically. You realize that with schools like Yale and Princeton, even if you have top of the line qualifications, there is still that luck factor and other factors that you can’t control.”
Singh, described as an incredibly kind and personable guy by his peers, has an unbelievable resume. Varsity volleyball captain, varsity basketball captain, member of the debate team, 4.31 GPA, and a 2320 SAT score. It’s hard to imagine many schools rejecting him.
But Singh faced what thousands of other qualified students in the US and abroad face every year. There are factors that are simply out of the students’ control. Because he understands this, he has been able to maintain his upbeat attitude.“If those things don’t work out for me, then they don’t work out. And that doesn’t necessarily mean I am going to have a crappy life. I’m still going to have an amazing time at whatever school I end up at.”
Each senior interviewed said it’s important to take advantage of the qualities gained throughout high school while in pursuit of that 4.0 and use them to your advantage, since they will benefit you wherever you go. As one student aptly stated, not getting into your top college isn’t your loss, it’s theirs.