Rebecca Suldan

Name: Rebecca Suldan
Age: 18
Activities: Editor-in-chief of the Pikesville yearbook, Student Congress, It's Academic, volleyball, Netivon high school (Hebrew school), HaZamir: International Jewish High School Choir, Bar/Bat Mitzvah volunteer tutoring once a week through Chizuk Amuno Congregation
Applied to: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Brown, Barnard, Tufts, Northwestern, University of Maryland-College Park, Washington University in St. Louis
Accepted at: Yale, Princeton, Barnard, University of Maryland, Washington University
Rejected: University of Pennsylvania, Brown
Waitlisted: Harvard, Columbia, Tufts, Northwestern

In her words: To anybody who has yet to go through the college process -- I haven't learned a way to game the system! I can't offer a cheat sheet, so a few words of advice:

First (despite what Kevin will write), I think it's foolish to pin your hopes on one dream school. There are people for whom it works out, but more likely, you'll set yourself up for unnecessary disappointment. We're teenagers, with ever-evolving tastes and interests; that's a good thing. Why should we make an enormous choice prematurely when the college admissions process is the one thing less predictable than we are?

Second, no matter what colleges tell you -- that they try to discover the person behind the application -- the admissions process is at its core a numbers game. With so many more applications that spots to fill, it's just the nature of the beast. It's natural to feel inadequate. I was by no means above such feelings; filling out applications and swamped with essay assignments, I often felt that none of it would make a difference.

If I could go back to the fall, I don't know how I'd get rid of the stress of physically doing the applications; I think that's unavoidable. However, I wish I could have realized earlier the importance of refusing to let yourself be defined by what someone on an admissions committee decides about your application. Work as hard as you can and write the best essays, but the process is a game, with such an enormous degree of randomness. By the time decisions came around, I had definitely learned to be content with the randomness of the system, and it made me approach both the good and the bad admission e-mails with a better attitude.

Finally, I can't resist the chance to give a shout-out to my class! I know I just said that there's a lot of randomness involved, but it's wonderfully satisfying to see the odds work out in favor of such a talented and deserving group of kids, in my chemistry class and in the rest of the grade. I have a feeling this isn't the last time some of my classmates will be in the newspaper!

Related links

&bull Teens under stress in top college competition
&bull InsideEd: So you want to go to Harvard? Share your college-admission stories here

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