College Application Q&A with the Class of 2019

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With the college process finally coming to a wrap, seniors are preparing to graduate from high school and start the next chapter of their lives. But before they leave, The Fourcast asked seniors Tanvi Kongara and Ellen Schindel for some advice to underclassmen about how to best tackle the next college application season.

Q: When did you personally start getting serious about the college process?

Tanvi: I started getting serious about the college process probably starting junior year, especially with all the standardized tests you have to take.

Ellen: I started a lot of the work over the summer and it really helped when I came back to school in the fall and start meeting with Mr. Lyles.

Q: How many schools do you recommend applying to?

Tanvi: I actually applied to too many schools in my opinion – I wouldn’t recommend applying to more than 15 schools at the max. I think about 10-12 schools is definitely enough, and the Hockaday college counselors work with you to help you narrow your list.

Ellen: I recommend around 8 schools.

Q: What was your biggest challenge when applying to college?

Tanvi:  I think my biggest challenge applying to college was definitely time-management. Before this year, I never truly understood how much time applying to college requires. People always say that college applications are like having another class, but I never believed that until I was in the midst of it.  I found it really helpful to make deadlines for myself so that I could stay on top of all the essays the process requires.

Ellen: My biggest challenge was writing the creative super personal essays because I’ve never been taught/had to write stuff like that in class. At the end of the process, I loved my common app essay. There is such thing as over-editing so you have to know when to stop because it can hold you back on your other essays.

Q: When in your eyes should someone complete their common app essay?

Tanvi: I started thinking of ideas for my common app essay over the summer, but personally I believe that you shouldn’t start writing your essay until August at the earliest. I found that the earlier you do start the easier it is to get more in-depth feedback from your college counselor.

Ellen: Sometime in September or early October depending on your college deadlines is a good time to finish it. Start in the summer!

Q: What are some tips you have for dealing with rejection?

Tanvi: Definitely, cry it out if you need to! I felt that dealing with rejection was a lot easier when I didn’t bottle up my emotions and spoke with other people how I was feeling. I wouldn’t also dwell on the rejection for a long time because I think the best way to deal with the rejection is to start thinking about all the other great school options you have.

Ellen: When rejected to a school you love, it will hurt. Period. You have to go through the feelings, throw out all the mercy you’ve collected, turn off your phone, go to school the next day if you can because there will be others who are/have been through the same thing. Crying is a uniting activity. When I found out I got into my ED, Tulane, I was screaming and in tears. I choose to ED there over waiting to hear back from my number 2 because I knew that would have a completely different experience than my classmates.

Q: What personally drew you to your college?

Tanvi: I loved the atmosphere of the campus and the school in general! I definitely felt that I would be able to succeed not only academically but also grow in character.

Ellen: The combination of the city, the community service on campus, the amazing alumni network, the personality of the student body, the incredible opportunities provided, and the interesting major/class selection made it a no-brainer.

Q: Did your process go as planned?

Tanvi: I was deferred then rejected to the school I applied early, so my path definitely did not go as planned! But I absolutely love the school that I plan on attending next year, and I firmly believe that you end up where you are supposed to be!

Ellen: Overall, and I don’t know how, but everything went pretty close to plan- I may have added too many schools along the way but…

Q: What is something you wish someone told you before this process?

Tanvi: I definitely wish that someone told me more about all the rejections you would receive. A college rejection does not only depend on a school’s reputation but also your fit for the school itself. When I received rejection after rejection for a two-week period, I was devastated and did not know how to cope with getting rejected from so many schools. For some schools, I applied because I thought was a fit, but in reality, I would not have been happy if I attended that institution.

Ellen: I wish someone told me that I have to be my biggest believer and that I could apply to challenging school and get in and if I didn’t, everything would still be okay. Applications Are just a way to show colleges that you’ve worked hard for four years and that you’ve become an amazing human because of what you do and the people around you/ organizations you’re a part of.

Q: Did you enjoy the college process?

Tanvi: During the process, it was definitely stressful especially around decision release times. However, having completed it and being super happy with how it turned out, I have loved the ways the college application process helped me figure out what I wanted to study it.

Ellen: There were definitely some very stressful moments balancing school, apps, sports, and other responsibilities but in the end, I loved being able to reflect on the past 4 years at Hockaday.


Story by Paige Halverson

Photo provided by Wikimedia Commons

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Paige Halverson

Sometimes referred to as 30K Paige, Regan or just simply Pickle, Paige loves to ski, hike and 2k. She is usually found on Spotify, trying to recreate Tasty Videos or at Bachman Lake.

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