One of our first students, Morgan, was accepted into a wide range of excellent schools. Morgan has decided to attend McDaniel College’s Honors Program. We sat down with her recently to ask a few questions about her college admissions process.
Foundry Admissions: Tell us a little bit about where you grew up and went to high school.
Morgan: I grew up in Poolesville and stayed in Poolesville schools throughout my education. I was a part of the Global Ecology magnet program at Poolesville High School, which I highly recommend if you’re interested in the environment!
Foundry Admissions: You had an incredibly strong high school GPA and you took a lot of hard courses. Which courses were most difficult? Was there any strategy used to determine which classes to take each semester? Do you have any tips for maintaining a strong GPA throughout high school?
Morgan: For me personally, math courses were hardest. To keep my grades up, especially in Calculus and AP Statistics, I consistently had to get extra help at lunch from teachers and watch a lot of Khan Academy explanatory videos.
Most of my courses were determined by standard course progression within MCPS, but my electives were things I was interested in, to motivate doing the extra work. I took AP European History as an elective my junior year, and Band, Photography, and Guitar my senior year.
To maintain a strong GPA, I recommend not being afraid of getting help. Poolesville has a lot of excellent teachers that are willing to help their students understand difficult material - reach out to them if you’re struggling with a topic! Also, actually read the textbooks.
Foundry Admissions: Your SAT scores were very strong. Could you talk a little bit about your process for studying and test taking? How many times and when did you take the SATs?
Morgan: I took the SAT twice, first in October my junior year, then one with the essay in March of my Junior year. My best score out of both was a 1410. I also took the ACT, which I personally preferred, and got a 34.
As for studying I used Khan Academy free SAT practice consistently, as well as a traditional review book. The full practice tests were helpful in estimating my scores and pinpointing exactly what i needed to work on.
Foundry Admissions: You wrote a number of compelling essays as part of the admissions process – both through the Common App and for individual colleges. What tips do you have for students starting the college essay process?
Morgan: When starting the essay process, I found it helpful to draft up a few topics on what I could feasibly write a thousand word essay on. Having options made the writing process a little smoother, and kept me from getting frustrated when one response to a topic didn’t work out.
I typically planned my essays out before actually starting to write them, a barebones paragraph-by-paragraph rundown of what i intended to write. Having a format kept me from getting too distracted and allowed me to focus on the content, which would be more important for the actual essay.
Foundry Admissions: You took part in multiple college interviews. What were those like? Any tips for other students or things you might have done differently in the interviews?
Morgan: I highly suggest going into interviews prepared with questions. It helped me remember what I wanted to ask about the school originally, and I also tried to incorporate a question based on what we spoke about in the interview. Secondly, send a thank you note or email after the interview! Little things to show you’re engaged and really interested in a school help you to stand out in the admissions process.
Foundry Admissions: You’re headed off to McDaniel College’s Honors Program this fall. Talk us through your college selection process. What other colleges did you consider? How did you determine that McDaniel was the right fit for you?
Morgan: I applied to eight schools, and was accepted to four (McDaniel, American University, Flagler College, and Oberlin College) which narrowed my selection a bit.
McDaniel was the most affordable and reasonable for my family, which was one of the top factors in the selection process for me. Plus, their study abroad program is excellent and campus itself isn’t too far away from home.
Foundry Admissions: Any final words of wisdom for current high school students thinking about college?
Morgan: Remember that you are more than a set of numbers; even though schools do put weight on test scores and grades, that isn’t the only thing they’re looking for!