I looked at a million schools. In the spring of my junior year every long weekend or school vacation I had my mother would be dragging me off to look at colleges. At the time I was annoyed by it, but looking back it was probably the best decision. Visiting all of the different colleges I was interested in really helped me to get a feel for them. I was able to talk to students and find out why they came there, and walk around the campus and just see what people were interested in and how they spent their time. I did two things at every school that really helped me figure out what it was all about, and if you're stuck on a school I recommend it. When I met a student, I would always ask them one question: What is your favorite thing about (college name) and what is your least favorite thing about (college name)? Sometimes people told me awesome things about their college that I would never have known otherwise, and sometimes people told me something they didn't like about their school that made me realize that maybe it wasn't the place for me. For the record, I couldn't find anyone at UVa that could tell me something they didn't like about the school. The other thing I always did was I looked at the bulletin boards and flyers to see what sorts of things the school did and what kinds of groups they had. The thing that interested me in UVa was the fact that there were so many different groups and activities going on throughout the campus.
UVa wasn't really on my radar when I first started looking at schools. I was looking more for a city school with tons of activity, but someplace that also had access to the outdoors where I could hike. I was hesitant about visiting UVa since coming from Boston it was the "South" but when I saw it I couldn't resist the beauty of Grounds. I wandered around and started talking to students, and every single person I talked to was so excited that I was looking at UVa. I had never had that sort of reception before, and it made me realize that everyone at UVa actually was so excited about their school that they wanted other people to be as excited too. Now, two years later, if a high school junior/senior came up to me and asked me about UVa I'm pretty sure I would be super excited too. The more I learned the more I liked, and I soon figured out that it was pretty close to what I was looking for. Charlottesville is a beautiful city with so many resources available to get involved in the community, and the Blue Ridge Mountains are only a short drive away. Everyone loves the school, and people who go here work hard but know when it's time to just kick back and relax.
When the time came I applied to 12 schools, UVa included. I know it may seem like a lot, but I was genuinely interested in each school, and they were each a little different. I had big schools, small schools, rural schools, city schools, schools close to home and schools far far away. I did have to write a lot of essays, but to be honest they seem worse than they actually are. My best piece of advice is to just write about something you love. If you write about something you love, your personality will come across on the paper, and after all thats what colleges are looking for. I wrote my essays on running, rock climbing, and traveling. Not complicated subjects, but each things that I loved and could really show my personality through.
In the end, I was accepted to UVa and after much deliberation chose to come here. It wasn't an easy decision, but its one I'm really glad I made. I've loved every second of it! If you have any questions about the application process, both at UVa and elsewhere, don't hesitate to shoot me an email!