Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Role reversal: being on the other side

 Today was an interesting day for me. I realized that I am, in fact, on the other side of things. I am that college kid you see pouring over a textbook when your tour guide leads you through the library, the one actively engaged in a conversation with her friends in the dining hall (who you see when your parents take you there after the tour to “experience” college food), and the one seated out on a quad (or in UVa’s case—the Lawn) with friends enjoying the beauty of the college environment. This realization occurred today as I walked out of my ‘Intro to Western Religious Traditions’ midterm. As I passed a large group gathered around their tour guide, I saw many eyes glance over at me. In my jeans and Virginia sweatshirt, I looked the part of a typical UVa student. Moments later I ran into my friend, Paige, who introduced me to her friend, Sarah, a senior in high school who is applying to UVa. The words rolled off my tongue without me even thinking, “Come to UVa. It is AMAZING here!”

 Prospective students, believe it or not, this will be you someday at whatever college you choose to attend (hopefully UVa!!). As obvious as that sounds, somewhere between the teacher recs and essays, I think it’s easy to loose sight of the fact that you really will become a college student someday and all of your labors will be well worth it. In the craziness of applying to college, there is hope alas.

  Right now, I imagine, many of you seniors are indeed somewhere between the teacher recs and essays. I hope that it is going well! It’s hard to believe that was only a year ago for me. I wrote my Common App essay on the issue of corruption in the business world because of an internship that I’d had the previous summer. If you’re planning to choose that topic, I suggest relating it to a personal event as well. As for the UVa supplement (for the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences), I wrote about a painting of my grandmother’s for my “favorite work of art, literature, or math” and then I discussed the quote for my second essay, relating it to some events in my high school career. Having just gone through the essay-writing process less than a year ago, my best advice is to make it personal. You could easily answer the Common App and UVa Supplement essay questions without providing much personal depth, but don’t fall into that trap. 

  Also, I know that it’s easy to really stress about the essays, I certainly did. I would encourage you to resist that temptation and take heart in recognizing that most of work is already done. While my essays were important, they certainly did not get me into UVa. Now that I’m on the other side, I realize that four years of working hard both in school and in extracurriculars did. The fun will come in late March/early April when admissions decisions come out and you’ll be one step closer to being on the other side, hopefully at UVa with me!
  Also---because blogs are just not as fun without pictures, here's a picture of me and some RUF friends on a hike last weekend!

Best of luck with everything guys! Shoot me an email if you have any questions!


  1. Hey Shelby:

    Your Mom shared your blog with me. I was so glad to hear that you are doing well. We sure do miss our seniors. Please keep in touch.

    Mrs. G

  2. Hi Shelby,
    I can't wait to one day on the other side of the picuture. This is probably true of alot of people, but as soon as I walked onto the campus I knew UVA was the right school for me. Since you have gone throught the application already,
    would you mind looking over my essays?