As high school is coming to an end and college is approaching, most students are thinking about or working to apply to their dream schools. Some of these students are looking at elite schools such as ivy leagues, Stanford, and MIT. One of these students is junior Sandra Moon who wishes to attend Stanford. This school stands out to her.
“The campus, is super ideal, as well as the location, it’s in California. Also a bunch of the courses and classes they have there are very fascinating. [It also includes] teachers who are really renowned,” Moon said.
Although Moon has not applied yet, senior Justin Nguyen has began his application process. He also hopes to get into Stanford. He has to fill out additional information before he can send his application.
“Since it is out of state, I have to do some extra stuff. I have to fill out the entire application for out of state applications,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen has personal reasons as well as academic for wanting to go. Because he lived in California for a while and it is one of the most prestigious schools in the world, he wishes to attend. He hopes to be accepted.
“Stanford University for me is definitely one of those reach schools, but I feel like I’ve done well enough, and tried hard enough, that I might just slip through the cracks and get lucky,” Nguyen said.
Students who wish to go to these top tier schools have to do more than the average student to make sure they stand out to the admission officers.
“We typically find with the top tier schools, their application process may be more in depth. They may require more essays. Sometimes they may require actual SAT subject tests, or they may require an interview and sometimes that’s an alumni that’s in your area,” lead counselor Courtney Tarbox said.
The student must also work hard throughout their senior year, even if they have already been accepted to one of these top schools. Some schools may request a report in the middle of the year to ensure that the student is still keeping up with everything.
“We tend to see that a lot of the top tier or Ivy league schools will request mid year reports. So, even though if a student applies in early fall and they do get accepted, we know that the schools are still checking in on the students. They want to see how they performed and the first semester of their senior year,” Tarbox said. “Some of those school may not make their final decisions until they get that mid year report, and so we do see that the application process is a little more in depth for those top tier schools.”
In addition to having good attendance and grades, college admission officers look for student involvement in school.
“You have to do things that are only offered to really few people and you really need to be involved in your school because that’s what admission officers are looking for and this prepares you for other relationships with college,” senior Bennett Ramirez said.
This expectation by the colleges puts a lot of pressure on students who are wanting to apply and hoping to get in.
“If you want to go to an [elite] school, there is more pressure on you to be the president of NHS, NEHS, and NSHS, and form your own club, and all this stuff, and be a leader, and at the same time be a part of extracurriculars and do volunteer [work]. Also [you have to] have good grades and do well on your tests,” senior Yvette Martinez said. “There is a lot more pressure on you to be the student that everybody thinks an [elite] student would be in your high school.”
Likewise, Ramirez also feels pressured by the difference that colleges expect you to make by the end of your high school years.
“That really puts pressure on me because I know that I can make a difference, but with the existing things that I have to do right now, my homework, other obligations, clubs, [when] am I supposed to find time to make that extra difference?” Ramirez said. “That is a challenge that many people have to face when they’re trying to apply to this kind of college where the admission officers are looking for people who are unique.”
Going to one of these schools can have a lot of positive benefits for a student’s professional career.
“One of the biggest pros is that you get to work with people who are very intelligent and like minded, and you can work together to reach whatever goal,” Ramirez said. “The other thing is that in these types of colleges, you get to do things that are really cool. You have the opportunity to do cutting edge research that you will probably never experience in other colleges.”
Although there are many benefits, there are also negative aspects involved with going to an elite school.
“It would be more challenging than going to another school, it means you have to go farther from your family, and you may or may not be able to pay the tuition rates,” Martinez said.
When deciding on whether an elite school is right for a student, it is important for a student to do their research in order to make sure they are prepared for what they are getting themselves into. It is also beneficial to visit the campus.
“The more knowledgeable you are about the school and what their mission is and what their goals are and what they work on, the better and more mature student candidate will come to cross,” Tarbox said. “Research is really important. We want to be sure that, in their research [student] see if that is a school they feel is a true fit for them, and that’s why we encourage those college visits. We want to be sure students are actually stepping foot on that campus and seeing what it’s like and what it’s like in that town before they make that commitment.”
Ultimately, no matter what the negative and positive aspects, the most important thing for a student in determining what college they are going to attend is making sure they choose the university that best suits them and their style.
“Any time students are picking a university or college, that is a personal decision for them. We know that some of the schools have such a good reputation, and we know that some of their programs are really strong, so I would say that’s where it’s a benefit to a student to pursue that, when they know what program they want to study and they want to seek out those schools that have the best programs for what they want to do,” Tarbox said.
It is also important for them to stay true to themselves and never doubt or change what they have to offer.
“In working with students that are applying for their dream school, a lot of it is just to be genuine and follow their heart and not try to guess what they think the school wants to hear, but to just be themselves and to see what they can contribute to that school and what they can bring and offer to that university. So, just really being true to themselves and just highlighting what they feel like they have to offer,” Tarbox said.