Congratulations are in order for College Raptor’s most recent $2,500 scholarship winner, Amanda McCard! Her winning essay made me curious about Amanda’s college journey. Luckily, she was kind enough to answer a few more questions. Here’s what she had to say!
Tell us about yourself!
My name is Amanda McCard and I am an incoming college freshman. I am from Burlington, CT and I attended Lewis Mills High School. Next year, I will attend the University of Connecticut. There I’ll study environmental science and journalism and be a member of the Special Program in Law. I hope to become an environmental attorney, or maybe a journalist.
In my free time, I like to write, read, hike, and spend time with my family and friends. In high school, I played for the field hockey and tennis teams and was also a member of various clubs, including a mentoring program, some volunteering groups, and the National Foreign Language Honor Society and National Honor Society.
What drew you to the 8 colleges you applied to?
I applied to UConn, UVM, Duke, UNC Chapel Hill, University of South Carolina, University of Richmond, Swarthmore, and Connecticut College. I was drawn to these schools for different reasons. Most importantly, I looked for schools where I thought I could receive a great quality education and be intellectually challenged. I also wanted a school where I would have many opportunities to get involved in extracurricular activities, internships, jobs, and academic experiences.
It was important to me that I chose a residential college with a defined campus. Because I couldn’t tour many schools due to the pandemic, I decided to apply to a broad range of colleges that differed in size, location, and other factors but all met the basic qualifications I valued. That’s how I settled on the eight I applied to.
What was your biggest challenge searching for colleges during the pandemic?
My biggest challenge searching for colleges during the pandemic was not being able to tour them. As much as I researched, watched videos and virtual tours, and memorized their statistics by heart, I felt like I was missing out on a vital part of the college search process because I couldn’t experience life at each college firsthand.
College Raptor was helpful with this because by presenting the information so simply, I was reminded to focus on the aspects of the process I could control, like making selections based on the data I could acquire, instead of fixating on what I was missing out on, which was far beyond my control. Although I couldn’t achieve this realization until after I discovered College Raptor, it would have been even more useful if I had known about the resource earlier.
Is there anything you would change about your search process now that you know about College Raptor?
Now that I know about College Raptor, I wish I had started my search process by using it to find colleges that most closely matched what I was looking for, instead of blindly choosing schools based on my prior knowledge of them and then looking into them further.
I think my search process could have been a lot simpler and more organized if I had focused on the facts surrounding each college from earlier on instead of others’ opinions swaying my own. That and my preconceived notions about various schools.
What is the most important factor in a school?
The most important factor I looked for in a school was value. I plan to go to law school after college so I really wanted a school that would offer the best education for a reasonable cost. I didn’t necessarily fixate on the price of each school, but rather the amount of knowledge and opportunities I could obtain from each school for the price.
What’s one piece of advice you’d like to share with students looking for colleges?
The most important piece of advice I have is to keep an open mind, but also be realistic. Look into schools and programs you haven’t yet considered. You might find something that really interests you. However, also be honest with yourself. Look for a school where you will feel comfortable and stimulated.
Congratulations again, Amanda! If you’re interested in winning College Raptor’s $2,500 scholarship like Amanda, check out the information page!