Congratulations to Summer Hollingsworth for her recent win of College Raptor’s $1,000 scholarship! I got to chat with Summer about her college search challenges and her ultimate decision on where to go to school.
Here’s what she had to say!
Tell us about yourself!
Hello, I’m Summer Hollingsworth and I just graduated from Bayfield High
School. I have a passion for the stars, whether it be exploring them, learning about their
cultural significance, or doing research to better understand them. After a lot of research
to find the best college for me, this passion has led me to pursue a degree in
astrophysics at the University of Washington.
Although I plan on majoring in STEM, much of my inspiration for science comes
from my other passions, music, and art. I love to paint scenes based on my travels or
inspired by my favorite books, like the Iliad and Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
What were the biggest factors in your college search?
My four biggest factors when looking at colleges were their academic
programs (specifically astrophysics), location, music programs, and of course, cost. I
knew I wanted to go to a college in the city at an affordable tuition, so using College
Raptor I took that and narrowed it down from there by looking at their programs. I
wanted a college with a good marching band and extensive opportunities for the
How did College Raptor help you narrow schools down from dozens to seven?
College Raptor helped me by simplifying my college search by stripping it down
to the most important factors. It displayed the tuition and college matches in a way that I
could easily compare them and determine which college decision would truly be the
best. The way College Raptor shows the likelihood of my acceptance is also extremely
helpful. In fact, its predictions were spot-on.
From a harrowing list of dozens of schools, I used College Raptor’s features to
only do the research that I needed to and narrowed down my list drastically. College
Raptor gave the college I ultimately chose, the University of Washington, a match score
of 99.2 out of 100, by far the highest of any on my list.
What sets College Raptor apart from other college search sites you tried?
College Raptor brings transparency to college searching that no other website
does. Where elsewhere I find advertisements and paywalls, College Raptor provides
honesty. Finding College Raptor after months of frustration was a breath of fresh air.
What was the most stressful part of the college search process for you?
Diving headfirst into college searching with minimal planning and a lack of
awareness of any resources was very difficult. I was overwhelmed with information and
didn’t know how to organize it. I have probably over a dozen accounts with the various
college search and scholarship websites that claimed to be able to help and just made
things even more stressful. College Raptor was the first that actually helped the way it
What’s one piece of advice you’d share with fellow students looking for schools?
My advice is to do what I didn’t do and stay organized. Find a college search
website that works for you, like College Raptor, and use it. Make a list of your colleges
and don’t be afraid to narrow it down. Make sure you know what factors are the most
important to you and keep those as the focus of your research.
Also, when doing your own research on specific colleges, make sure you consult outside sources from students or others in addition to the information provided by the college itself.
As for scholarships, my advice is to have three lists: a list of scholarships you will
apply for, a list of scholarships you might be able to apply for, and a list of scholarships
you have applied for. Capitalize on your strengths, whether it’s art, athletics, your test
scores, or essay writing.
The most important thing to remember is that you don’t need to have your entire
life planned out by the end of high school. You don’t even need to have the next four
years planned out. Let yourself be flexible. You’ll do great no matter where you go.