Q&A with $1,000 Scholarship Award Winner Sofia Zapata

Sofia Zapata is the latest scholarship award winner here at College Raptor! Her gripping essay about her college search journey earned her $1,000 towards her higher education costs.

I had the chance to chat further with Sofia about her dreams and challenges. Here’s what she had to say!

Scholarship award winner Sofia

Tell us about yourself!

Well, my name is Sofia Zapata and I’m a high school senior this year. I’ve
been told I’m a good writer and I love to make things, whether that be with
clay, paint, fabric, or just tons of hot glue. I love to learn and I’m terrified of
dead insects even though I think live ones are pretty cool. I love the arts
as a pastime, but more than that, I love seeing how things fit together and
categorizing them is something I’ve always loved and probably the reason
for my love of puzzles and logic problems.

What drew you to study something in a STEM field?

My dad is a statistics-based chemist and my mom used to be a family
doctor, so I grew up surrounded by science and math. As a kid, I didn’t
really think I would follow in their footsteps, but as I grew, I realized I
genuinely enjoy learning about biology and want to get involved in matters
that matter to me, like climate change and public health. I want to keep
learning even as I grow older but I also want to help people, and STEM—specifically, biology—is the perfect blend of the two: innovative enough
that there is always something new to be found, but relevant in many
fields and subjects.

What was your approach to the college search BEFORE College Raptor?

I am thankful that I found College Raptor as early on as I did; before, I was
just trying my luck with whatever popped up in my inbox and the first page
of Google. My results were disappointing and it was hard to find colleges
that matched my interests because I had to go through each college
one-by-one and it took so long to find colleges that I liked, let alone find
enough colleges to start picking and making a college list.

I didn’t really have any vision or a plan and it felt very overwhelming to have so many
colleges in my inbox but not be able to find the information I wanted in
order to make a decision.

You really liked College Raptor’s personalized results. Tell us how that affected
your college search.

College Raptor’s personalized results helped keep my school list both
reasonable and ambitious. With personalized results, I could look at test
scores, popular majors, and compare them to my own test scores. It was
like having the base facts about a college cherry-picked for me; I didn’t
have to go looking for them one by one on the college website, it was all
there on College Raptor.

Also, I could compare my test scores and financial status to those of other applicants to see how well a college and I matched in addition to having colleges personally recommended to me based on my profile. It was a huge help for me because I could explore and skim through many colleges much faster and also discover colleges I
hadn’t even considered.

Are you looking at any schools in particular right now?

I’ve sent in applications to a variety of schools: University of Chicago,
Johns Hopkins University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Colorado
School of Mines, among about seven others. These schools have really
compelling undergraduate biology programs and studies, perfect for
someone like me who wants to go into research, as well as a mindset
focused on creating and fueling new ideas.

What’s one piece of advice you’d like to give fellow students looking at colleges?

Define what matters to you: do you care about the size of the college
town? How important are sports to you? How important is prestige in the
field you’re going into? Depending on you, those answers may be
completely different and entirely change the colleges which are best for
you. Colleges should match your priorities; there are too many colleges in
the world for you to change yourself for a college which doesn’t suit you.

Congratulations again, Sofia! Want to be a scholarship award winner like Sofia? Be sure to check out our scholarship page.

If you’d like to find colleges that fit your needs—just like Sofia did—check out College Raptor’s free match tool!