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January 27, 2014


Looking Back at Hearing Back

By this time a year ago, I had officially submitted all of my college applications. My last regular application was due on January 15th. I remember how weird it felt logging in to the CommonApp for the last time and pressing that last “submit” button. All of the green arrows pointing upwards were refreshing and somewhat foreboding. I had done everything I could. I had submitted all of my applications, supplemental materials, and scholarship essays. The only thing left to do was wait.

At this time last year I think that I had already received all of my acceptances to the schools that I applied early action to. Clark was one of them. With four acceptances in my pocket, I was eager to hear back from more schools. My mindset was focused on the next step of the process – making THE DECISION. (I had left the financial aid part of the process to my parents). For me I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit most of the schools that I had applied to. So when it came down to choosing the right one, the question on my mind was “Is it the right fit?” Back in New Jersey I only had my memories of the visits and the Internet at my disposal to help me begin thinking about where I could see myself.

Credit: The Hawkeye

Credit: Alive Campus

During this time I poured over College Prowler and College Confidential. In my mind, these websites held the secrets that the Admissions Officers did not want me to know. The websites let me compare rankings of the different schools and get an idea of who was, allegedly, getting accepted at my schools of choice. It was a love-hate relationship rooted largely in desperation. I was on the quest for as much information that I could possible find to help me make an informed decision.

So what do I think of these tools in hindsight? Well, let’s look at College Confidential first. It is essentially a forum for perspective students and parents to ask questions about specific topics that are grouped together in feeds. The Clark one is pretty inactive. For me I used College Confidential mostly to compare myself to other prospective student’s “stats”. Not the best thing for my mental health, I know, but I couldn’t help it. Would I do it again? Probably. Most likely yes. But I do have to admit that, in the way I was using it, it was not helpful. Sure I got to see what type of students were getting in, being waitlisted, deferred, or denied, but this did not really effect my decision in finding the right fit. In my opinion the college admissions process is an extremely subjective game. There’s no straightforward mathematical formula for acceptance. The decision is largely in the hands of the admissions counselor reading your application.

Now for College Prowler. College Prowler gives an overall review of a number of different aspects of each university. The reviews are written by students and alumnus. At first glance, the Clark one had a wealth of information. I used College Prowler lightly and took everything I read with a grain of salt. Was it helpful? I think so. It definitely gave me more information and opinions on the schools I had applied to.

In the end, when it came to making the right decision, I realized that it came down to me. I could read everything I wanted to, experience all of the different campuses, and talk to as many people humanly possible. When it came down to it, I had the final say. Was it easy? Of course not. It was probably one of the biggest decisions I have ever made in my life. But it was just that, my decision. Right now you likely still don’t know what your options for college will be, but be excited. The end decision is all up to you.

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