College application season is different for everyone, but all stories have the same universal theme: stress. The actual process of applying to colleges turned out to be a lot easier than I expected. The anticipation of having to do all the work required was more daunting than the actual task itself. I visited a lot of colleges because I have two older brothers, and I tagged along every time they went on college visits. So by the time I got around to senior year, I pretty much knew what schools I wanted to apply to. I went on a few visits for my own benefit. I had already visited Dartmouth once with my brother but I went again with my parents to make sure I still liked it. On that same trip, we visited Middlebury, a small liberal arts college in Vermont. Similarly I took a weekend trip with my mom to Cornell to check out the campus. We also hit Columbia and Yale one weekend when we went up to Connecticut to visit my grandparents. I’m from Virginia, so it just kind of made sense to apply to William and Mary and University of Virginia (UVA). I knew these schools pretty well anyway because my brother went to William and Mary for undergraduate and a lot of my friends from high school who had already graduated attended UVA. I never really took a normal college visit to these schools because by the time I was ready to apply, I already knew more about them than I would have gained from a tour or information session.
The story of how I ended up applying to USC is actually the most interesting of them all. I visited USC on a whim. A couple of my friends from high school were in the film program here and they convinced me to come visit for a fun weekend. I wasn’t even really thinking of applying here. I was pretty set on applying early decision to Cornell. But by the end of the weekend, I knew I couldn’t limit myself with early decision because there was something about USC that really intrigued me. In the end, I applied to William and Mary, UVA, Cornell, Dartmouth, Yale, and USC (I nixed Columbia because it had too much emphasis on the humanities). And I only ended up having to write two essays because so many of the prompts overlapped. So all in all it wasn’t too bad of a process, and the end result turned out great!