The Common Application

by Sarah Feinberg, Features Editor
graphic by Emily Zhang

After passing pre-screens for more than 10 schools including her top three choices — Carnegie Mellon, Pennsylvania State and Syracuse Universities —  Zoe* said she is ready to take on the next step: January auditions. She said her mock audition in New York with professionals helped her feel prepared. 

“I hadn’t done an in-person audition for two years, so to do my full package and get strong feedback to work on before [college] auditions was a lifesaver.”

Although impromptu dancing and reciting pieces can be intimidating, Zoe said that maintaining a positive mindset is crucial.

“Trusting yourself is very important. It’s really just going in the room, knowing that you’ve put the work in and that you’re ready to go,” she said.

As early decisions start coming out, Zoe said that she hopes students will be respectful.

“It’s really frustrating when you see kids brag about their acceptances, and other kids don’t get what they’d hoped, so I hope to see more of that camaraderie we have here.”

. . .

With his portfolio finished, Evan* is working on his remaining essays for his January regular decision applications to Carnegie Mellon University, Occidental College, Rhode Island School of Design, Rochester Institute of Technology and Syracuse University. Hoping to attend a school with a strong industrial design program, Evan said he tried to showcase this interest in his portfolio.

“Industrial design is a way to use art, and it can be used to make products that can impact the world in ways that not all art can,” he said. 

Evan said that he hopes colleges will gain a sense of his identity through his applications.

“I hope they are able to see my whole personality and all my interests because I am very passionate about art, music and running.”

It’s important to focus on colleges’ specific qualities when searching for the best fit, Evan said.

“Have an open mind with the schools, and respect them for what they are by being more objective and informing yourself on what each school has to offer.”

. . .

Having submitted five early action applications and a regular decision application to Rochester Institute of Technology, Jared* said that he is working on his last two regular decision applications to Carnegie Mellon and Cornell Universities.

With Georgia Institute of Technology and University of Michigan as his top choice schools, Jared said that factors such as proximity to home and engineering opportunities will play into his decision.

“The engineering programs, [research] opportunities and surrounding areas are all really great,” he said. “There are very different atmospheres in each campus, so if I get accepted into a few schools, I’ll have to [compare] their differences more.”

As seniors wait to hear back from colleges, Jared said that it is important to take time to enjoy the present.

“It’s hard to tell what school you’ll get into, especially with the pandemic. There’s nothing you can do but wait and see,” he said. “Take that free time to relax and enjoy what we have left in our senior year.”

. . .

Previously known as Heidi*, Lily Bulczynski has committed to Middlebury College, where she plans to study environmental science.

After receiving her acceptance letter, Bulczynski said that she was immediately overcome with relief. As she is already connecting with other rising freshmen, Bulczynski said that she is looking forward to Middlebury’s welcoming atmosphere and exciting possibilities.

“It’s nice to just have it all behind me. I’m really excited that I got in. I’ve been finding people on Instagram who also are going to the same school as me, which is so fun.” she said. “I love being in nature and it’s right in the middle of the mountains with a beautiful campus, and the fact that I can run there is so great.”

While the application process can be intimidating, Bulczynski said that everyone is capable of achieving great things.

“There’s not one right school for anyone, [so] choose wherever you can envision yourself being at home and wherever you would feel happy,” she said. “I’m sure everyone can accomplish amazing things no matter where they go.”