Fourth Prize: Megan Riann Sekiya, Austin, TX: Tulane University ’18
Applying for college is the most stressful part about senior year. In a matter of months, high school seniors are expected to figure out where they’re going to go for the next four years and what they are going to do for the rest of their lives. While they are undertaking this endeavor, each senior will find the college of their dreams. This dream school can be private or public, close to home or far, but the important thing is that it is everything the student is looking for. My dream school was Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt became my Plan A. I loved it because it has top-notch academics, lots of extrcurriculars, a beautiful location, and a name that everyone knows. It is also extremely difficult to get into. But that didn’t seem like a problem to me. I was at the top of my class, involved in multiple clubs, president of the FFA, a volunteer at an animal shelter and an assistant coach of a softball team. Everyone told me I could get in. They told me Vanderbilt would be crazy to turn me away. So I applied early action and started planning my future there: what clubs I would join and what classes I would take. Plan A was a go.
In January I got the news. I didn’t get in. I didn’t even get waitlisted. I was just rejected. The future I had planned had disappeared. Plan A was gone. The problem was that I had never thought of a Plan B. I hadn’t even considered my future not becoming what I had thought of. Of course, I applied to other colleges and had been accepted to TCU, UT Knoxville, and Tulane. But I had never seriously considered going to any of them.
After the initial shock, crying and acceptance, I started planning. Plan A has been the only plan I have ever had to go with and I was determined to make it happened. I researched how to transfer to Vanderbilt, the requirements, and everything I would have to do to still get in. So I decided that I would go to Tulane for my freshman year and then transfer over. Tulane was the school most similar to Vanderbilt and so gave me the highest chance of getting in.
When my parents found out what I was planning, they sat me down to talk to me. They told me that I was a bright girl with a bright future ahead of me no matter where I ended up going to school and, for whatever reason, that school wasn’t going to be Vanderbilt. But other schools wanted me. Tulane had offered me $25,000 in merit scholarships and entrance into the honors program. Tulane thought I could succeed at their school. Instead of focusing on what I didn’t get, they told me I needed to focus on what I did get.
At first, I didn’t want to listen. Vanderbilt had been Plan A, and I was the type of person that had never needed Plan B. But I did what my parents asked and looked more into the schools that I had been accepted to. While looking deeper into Tulane, I realized there were things there that I hadn’t seen the first time because I had only considered it as a backup. Tulane has a fantastic study abroad program, the ability to double major and minor easily, a great surrounding city, a multitude of clubs to join, and is considered a part of the “Southern Ivy League.” There was also a zoo across the street that I could volunteer at. The more I looked, the more I realized that Tulane was actually a better fit for me than Vanderbilt ever was.
I will be attending Tulane in the fall. I will not be transferring. So if I had to give only one piece of advice to prospective college students it would be to consider all your options closely. Find your dream school and apply early and do all the things your high school counselors tell you to but actually look at your backup schools. Find out everything that they have to offer as well. Because if you look closely enough, you may find that Plan B is better than Plan A.