Marshall - Syracuse University - Class of 2019

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Don't commit to a school too early. You might miss out on some great opportunities at schools that accept you later.

I never considered going to school in my home state—I was captivated by the East Coast, where we visited every summer. But I needed a great deal of financial aid, so I sought out private schools with track records of meeting a large amount of students' financial need.

Hometown: Columbus, OH

High School: Public

GPA: 3.55/3.7 (weighted)

ACT: 29

Major: Finance

Goal: Learn the ins and outs of investment banking

College

Status

Syracuse UniversityAttending
Babson College (EA)Waitlisted
Denison UniversityAccepted
Ohio State University (EA)Accepted
Seton Hall UniversityAccepted
University of RichmondWaitlisted
Wake Forest UniversityDenied
Freshman Year Update

Two things surprised me about college: 1) how much there is to get involved in and 2) how hard it is to avoid distractions and manage my time. There's stuff going on every night of the week. And between the club golf team, my fraternity, two business organizations, and my part-time job in the financial aid office, it's been difficult finding time to study. I've found it helps to study with friends, join study groups, and go to the library, but sometimes I just have to stay up late to get my work done.

My classes are more difficult than they were in high school—and longer—some almost three hours long. In some, I have only a midterm and a final. So my first month felt like I had nothing to do, then all of a sudden I was cramming for an exam on things I hadn't thought about in over a month.

If you really want to get involved on campus and make close friends, I recommend Greek life. Pledging a fraternity has been a life-changing experience, and the relationships I've formed so far are incredible.

Sophomore Year Update

This year, I took finance classes in the business school, and they were not easy. I wasn't prepared for the business school's competitive grading policy, either: only 33 percent of students can get A's! I'm still maintaining a good GPA, but it is taking more effort.

The social aspect of Syracuse is awesome. There's always something going on Tuesday through Saturday. Plus I lived in my fraternity house and traveled all over the state with the club golf team. So at times it was difficult to focus on my schoolwork.

While I couldn't be happier at Syracuse, sometimes I wish I had looked at schools in the south, where it's warm. Winter here lasted from October through April, and we had more than 100 inches of snow! I'm looking forward to the fall, when I'll be studying economics in Florence, Italy.

I end up in waitlist land

During a summer trip to Cape Cod, I discovered Babson College. I visited the campus, talked to the golf coach, and had an admissions interview. Everything went great and I thought I would be a perfect fit there. I applied early action, but was deferred. I wrote a letter to admissions stating my continued interest in the school, hoping to get accepted from the regular decision pool. But I was waitlisted, and that was the end of that.

By early April, I had been denied or waitlisted by my other top choices: Wake Forest, University of Richmond, and Syracuse University. Wake Forest was a reach for me, so I wasn't shocked by my denial there. But I was surprised by the waitlist at Syracuse. I thought I was a shoe-in for admission, considering my GPA and test scores compared well with the reported averages I'd seen.

Late breaking news saves the day

So I submitted my enrollment deposit and committed to attend Seton Hall, which was the least expensive of my options. It was also the only college outside of Ohio—right by New York City. I notified my high school, bought some gear, and told all my friends and family. April 29th rolled around and I was checking my email at work and saw a message from Syracuse University. I got accepted off the waitlist! And even better, I got a great financial aid package! I immediately notified Seton Hall that I would no longer be attending, and I submitted my enrollment deposit. When I showed my parents the acceptance and financial aid letters, they were just as thrilled as I was.

My ups and downs

I figured because of my average GPA, I wasn't a likely candidate for admission at Wake Forest. But getting denied there was still painful. I don't think it would have stung so badly if I hadn't gotten waitlisted by the University of Richmond on the same day—and during spring break. When I heard the news my mood just disintegrated. I felt like all my hard work on the essays and interviews was for nothing.

My best moment was getting almost a full ride from Syracuse. I couldn't believe my luck. No more private student loans, no more stressing about the cost. I can just focus on my studies and enjoy my college experience.

What I learned

I was surprised how many colleges offered optional campus interviews. I'm glad I did the three interviews I did because I think it made me a better interviewer. I brought what's called a "Career Passport" to all my interviews to help "brag" about myself. It's a small binder with various things like my transcript, resume, letters of recommendation, pictures of my workplaces, pictures of sports achievements, etc. Something like this is impressive to the interviewers and shows them that you are well prepared.

The money factor

The aid package from Syracuse will cover all my tuition and living costs. It includes mostly scholarships and grants. I was also awarded a small subsidized loan that I don't have to pay back until after I graduate, and a private scholarship.

My advice

Local scholarships are worth the time it takes to apply because not a lot of kids know about them. Also, don't commit to a school too early because you might miss out on some great opportunities from schools that accept you later.

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