Well, it’s only been a few weeks since I started attending Cornell, so in that respect I’d say my life has yet to feel drastically altered. On the other hand, I’d say being a part of this place has really bolstered my intellectual and social confidence. So far I’m not finding it hard to reach out and form friendships, though as the “O-Week” hype dies down I’ll have to see if everyone remains as personable.

As for how I went about getting into an Ivy League university, I was fortunate enough to have a supportive family and a kickass therapist to help me along the way. The pressure to maintain high first-semester senior grades, the application process, compounded with my own individual anxiety issues caused me to experience a massive toll on my mental and physical health. I don’t think I could’ve withstood the pressure if it weren’t for my support system.

Organization was also key. I find it helps ease worries about meeting deadlines to create a comprehensive schedule for your work (both school and application-related) through to the end of first semester. It really put into perspective the amount of work I needed to put in per day to be certain I was managing everything in a timely fashion. I’d never used a planner before—I used to just do work on a task-by-task basis—but it became my best friend senior year. It’s so worth it.

Also, I realized how massively unproductive it was to compare myself to others applying to the same colleges. For instance my close friend, with similar grades and a lot going for herself in terms of extracurriculars, applied ED to Cornell but was rejected. This nearly discouraged me from applying to Cornell myself! I did some next-level mental gymnastics trying to calculate my probability of getting into certain universities based off my peers’ “qualifications.” It really is useless to try and do this. You might think you are a lesser candidate because someone with a better GPA, SAT/ACT, curriculum vitae or essay is also applying, but each university has its own individual character and wants to build a class that blends well together. You have no way of truly knowing whether or not the admissions department thinks you’d be a good fit for their class. Yes, it helps to get good grades and standardized testing scores, and I worked my tail off to achieve both, but your unique insight counts for so much more than you’d expect.

Something that was also instrumental to my success was self-advocacy. Never be afraid or embarrassed to reach out to your own teachers, guidance, the admissions department of your dream school, or even alumni with questions and thoughts. If you’re not sure about something and want clarification, ask. I’m the kind of person who absolutely dreads phone calls, so believe me when I say it is 100% worth it.

This was a lengthy response, but I hope it answered your questions!

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