The Common Application

by Ellyssa Jeong, Centerfold Editor
graphic by Emily Zhang

After having live auditions in February and early March, Candace* was accepted to all of the schools she applied to: Boston University, the Eastman School of Music, the Juilliard School, Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, the New England Conservatory, Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music and Rice University. Though her top choices were originally the Eastman School of Music, the Juilliard School and the New England Conservatory, Candace said she is still contemplating all of her options. 

“I have no idea what school I’m leaning towards. Because I’ve gotten in everywhere, the decision is going to be very hard,” she said. “Many of them are serious considerations at this point.”

Candace said that she isn’t worried about the cancellation of revisit and campus days, and that being unable to visit won’t impact her decision heavily. 

“Most of the student acceptance days have been canceled, but I’ve already been to every school because of the live auditions, so I don’t feel the need to travel out there again,” she said. 

Stuck at home due to school closures, Candace has utilized this time as a way of taking a break. 

“I’ve been practicing these past few weeks. I’ve been mostly relaxing, meeting with friends online and FaceTiming them,” she said. “School closing is obviously the right thing to do, and it’s nice to see that things are still running the way that they’re supposed to –– at least at the college level.” 

Austin* was rejected from Princeton University and Yale University, waitlisted at Harvard University and Williams College and accepted into the University of Chicago and Brown University, from which he was deferred early decision. 

“Basically, I went full circle. At the beginning of this entire process, UChicago and Brown were my top choices, which is why I applied to them early, but after I got deferred from Brown, I just assumed that I wasn’t going to get in, but I did. When push comes to shove, I’m back with these two schools again,” he said. 

Austin said that his decision between UChicago and Brown is especially challenging because they both reflect important parts of himself, despite their contrasting reputations. 

“It’s kind of funny because both schools are perceived as polar opposites. UChicago is perceived as an academically rigorous school, … while Brown is perceived to be very lenient compared to other top schools –– not that it’s easy in any way, but it just has a very laid-back environment.”

Unsure of which school he would fit in better at, Austin said that he has been looking into both schools’ online resources to help solidify his decision.

“They’re doing a good job of sending out virtual materials and having student discussions online, but it really just isn’t the same thing,” he said. “I toured both schools earlier last year, so I guess I have those experiences at least.” 

Though such cancellations aren’t ideal for anyone, Austin said that precautionary actions are important. 

“I feel like this isn’t the worst time for this to happen because a lot of people are missing very important things in their lives, but at the same time, graduation and prom aren’t essential,” he said. “I’m glad that we are taking preventative measures because I’d rather have us not having fun than us being actually sick.”

Out of the 13 regular decision schools that he applied to, Korey* was accepted into five —  Brandeis University, Middlebury College, UMass Amherst, the University of Rochester and Wesleyan University — and was waitlisted at Carnegie Mellon University.

“Right now, I’m picking between Middlebury or Wesleyan, but I did receive scholarships from my safety schools, so I’m still considering that as well,” he said. 

Looking back on his overall college application experience, Korey said that it has been a rollercoaster of emotions. With rejections from his top choices being his most recent experience, Korey said that his overall college application journey has felt disappointing.

“It’s really exciting, the day when you’re accepted,” he said. “[March 27] was a really tough day for me because I got rejected from some of the top schools that I was looking to go to, so it’s been unsatisfying, just because of the recency bias.”

Korey said that his peers’ support has helped him cope with rejection.  

“It hurt a bit, but talking to my friends and looking and posting on the virtual wall of rejection on Facebook has been helpful,” he said.

With school temporarily on hold, Korey said he has mixed feelings.

“At first, our school closing was pretty nice because I could relax, but now it’s seeming more likely that we’re not going to be going back, which is sad because it’s really nice to see people in class everyday, and I’m not getting to see them anymore,” he said. “At home, I’ve been doing a bunch of relaxing, exercising, playing video games [and] reading to fill the space.”

In the absence of accepted students days, Korey said that the decision process is more challenging. 

“I’m thinking about driving down to some schools and driving around campuses or looking around the cities nearby,” he said. “It would definitely be nice to visit the schools, so deciding is a little bit harder.”

*names changed to protect students’ identities