College Raptor: Tell us a little about yourself!
Gleda: My name is Gleda and I’m a senior in high school who is currently awaiting college admission letters! I spend lots of my time reading, writing, hanging out with friends, and playing with stray dogs.
CR: What colleges did you apply to? Why did you apply to these?
Gleda: Because I qualify for a CommonApp fee waiver, I had the option to apply to lots of schools in and out of my geographic area. I applied to the largest in-state schools (UF, FSU, UCF, USF) and lots of schools on the East coast like University of Georgia, University of South Carolina, and University of North Carolina. I also applied to some “reach” schools like Brown, UPenn, Columbia, and WashU. I applied to these, along with others, because after my research I concluded that they were best suited for my interests—writing, English, and publishing. Each of these schools has a reputable English program I’m interested in plus an immersive student community.
CR: What challenges did you run into during your college search during the pandemic?
Gleda: During the pandemic, I had less access to in-person college advisers from my school, so much of my preliminary knowledge came from social media and whatever I could gather on the school’s website. The pandemic also made it harder for me to gauge how well I liked the school from a social standpoint, since many of the college campuses were virtual or hybrid and not at their regular activity.
CR: Is there anything you would change about your search process now that you know about College Raptor?
Gleda: If I could go back in time with the help of College Raptor, I would use their extremely helpful databases to make a large spreadsheet that compares each potential college I’m interested in. Categories would include the ranking of their program that fits my career, their scholarship opportunities, and their affordability. College Raptor has many helpful tools that would’ve saved me more time when searching and applying to colleges by helping me compare and sooner narrow my options.
CR: What is the most important factor in a school?
Gleda: The most important factor in a school is its leadership and networking opportunities. While a school may be equipped with skilled professors and a fun social scene, the most important part of college is what comes after: Your career. When picking out what colleges were at the top of my list, I first considered how efficiently they were going to set up career opportunities and networking relationships for me, which will kickstart my success.
CR: What’s one piece of advice you’d like to share with students looking for colleges?
Gleda: My biggest piece of advice is to start early. Create a huge list of potential colleges and “grade” them based on what you’re looking for. By getting started early, you can get in contact with current undergrads and alumni to gather a more cumulative understanding of that school’s atmosphere. When it comes to the beginning of your senior year, you should have your near-final list of schools you’re applying to, giving yourself ample time to alter that list before their deadlines. Time awareness is important because I missed out on many Early Action and special program opportunities by waiting for the latest application deadline.