A Year of Triumph: BA Seniors Share Their College Admissions Stories

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Photo by Shanelle Amos: Seniors Jevon Louis, Angelica Gutierrez and Demetrya Seay pose with juniors Catherine Campbell (second from left) & Antonio Hunter (far right)

by Angelica Gutierrez

According to the Florida Department of Education, Broward County’s graduation rate is at an all time high. Since 2003, the graduation rate has increased by 26.9 percent and now stands at 86.1 percent. A new generation of seniors in the last days of their high school career are preparing to embark on the great unknown of the “real world.” But getting to this culmination point, so close to the prize of college or careers, took a lot of effort! The following students, including this reporter, share their experiences of the college application process and their advice to the underclassmen.

Angelica Gutierrez:  Oxford-Bound Via William Jewell College

The end of junior year was a huge wake-up call for me. It seemed that everyone, except me, had pledged their undying allegiance to some college institution or another. I hadn’t even really started to research my options. That summer before senior year found me sitting, filled with despair, in front of my laptop screen for hours and reading dozens of articles about colleges. One day I would convince myself that if I didn’t get into an Ivy League school, my entire ancestral lineage would be shamed. Other days, I would think that if I applied to McDonald’s for a job even they would reject me.

For all the individuality colleges look for in college essays, their websites are all pretty blasé. Through sheer luck, I stumbled on an article on the Princeton Review about “Value for your Money Colleges.” There was a section about a tiny school in Liberty, Missouri that boasted about something called an “Oxbridge program.” Basically, it was a degree path modeled on the English way of teaching– in addition to classes, one would also participate in tutorials, which were one-on-one discussions with professors on all kinds of complicated topics. The third year of the program took place entirely in Oxford University in England.

Though I was very impressed, I didn’t think I was going to get in to this highly selective program. I applied to the program almost on a whim, and the essay I wrote was about my cat in response to the philosophical query of “Can beings other than humans love?”

A few weeks later, I recieved an e-mail from the head of the history department at Jewell telling me that he had been very impressed with my application, and that the senior tutor of Oxbridge wanted to speak to me personally. ME! If you had told me I would be accepted into a program that only takes about 10 students per year, I would have laughed in your face. My advice to the underclassmen; therefore, is extraordinarily simple: apply for everything that interests you, even if you don’t think you’re going to it. College admissions are a bit of a roll of the dice and sometimes you might get a natural 20.

Edwish Fleurida: 2+2 in Broward College

Broward College was recommended to me by Mrs. Creary, our BRACE Counselor. I thought it was a great school because of the 2+2 program, which allows me to get my prerequisite classes done at Broward College for the first two years of my college career, and then I can come back to Boyd Anderson and Mrs. Creary will help me transfer to FIU. FIU has great pediatric and engineering programs that suit my interests.

Broward College is very cheap and they are giving me a scholarship, too. It’s a pretty well-known community college that provides great opportunities such as scholarships, study abroad programs, and, of course, the 2+2 program.  It was just a no-brainer for me.

My advice to the underclassmen is to always have big dreams, but more importantly, big goals as well. Without a goal, you don’t have anything you’re working for and you can get demotivated. You must always be walking towards a destination in your life.

SGA President Ashley Wells: Florida Gulf Coast University

Applying to college was not an easy process, especially since I started the process late. From my junior year, I had a few choices as far as where I wanted to attend, but I never had them narrowed down until the end of my first semester of my senior year. I ended up choosing Florida Gulf Coast University. With that said, I highly suggest that you start the process of college applications and scholarships as early as possible. Always take advantage of every opportunity!

An Anonymous Student’s University of Florida Decision. (The following is a testimony from a BA senior who preferred to remain anonymous for this article.)

The college application process was so, so stressful. I chose to apply to many colleges because I didn’t have a clear idea as to where I’d want to go. It got to be really overwhelming and I would call my friends, who had completed their college applications ages ago, and vent about how out-of-my-depth I felt.

However, the pay-off was amazing! I improved my essay writing and interview skills. After lots of deliberation (and more venting to my friends), I chose the University of Florida because they offered me a full ride. Go Gators!

The only advice I have to give to the underclassmen is to keep your motivation up! You’ll be dead tired, but don’t miss those deadlines. You’ll only be able to apply to colleges and scholarships once– make it count!

All of these college students successes are great, but…

What happens to those students that graduate and attend college? Only 32 percent of them actually attain a bachelor’s degree after attending high school in Broward. Ms. Taylor, an English teacher at Boyd Anderson, often relates a powerful story about the reality of college drop out rates. At her orientation in FSU, the speaker told the students to look to their left, and then look to their right because chances are that one or both of those students won’t be at the school by the end of the first semester.

College is extraordinarily difficult and expensive. Oftentimes, teenagers aren’t prepared to deal with the incredible stress and drop out their first year. High school simply doesn’t prepare students for the workload in college, nor does it impart enough real life skills or salient lessons in personal responsibility. Contrary to popular belief, procrastination will not work. In an attempt to not only encourage more students to apply to college, but also stay in college, this reporter has created a Google Classroom (classroom code: 2vnoo3v) that instructs students about college and career readiness. This, along with other initiatives, can help us raise that abysmal 32 percent college graduation rate to greater heights!