Decisions, Decisions: How These Seniors Chose Their College

By Mia Speier ’18

As February winds down, March slowly approaches. And while the second semester is an exciting, yet stressful time for many Immaculate Heart students, the Class of 2018 is particularly anxious for college acceptances and rejections to start rolling in.

Toward the end of March and beginning of April, many seniors will finally hear back from the schools they have applied to. And while the anxiety has been building for those of us who are still waiting to hear back from our top colleges and universities, a few select students already have a clear picture of what their future holds.

Seniors Juliann Freedman and Liz Stafford already know which colleges they will be attending next year. Having applied Early Decision, they were made aware of their exciting acceptances earlier this winter, and because of the nature of their early applications, they are binded to these schools.

The Bamboo sat down with these two accomplished seniors to discuss why they chose the school that will be attending in the fall and to reflect on the entire admissions process as a whole.

The Bamboo first interviewed Juliann Freedman —


The Bamboo: Where will you be attending college next year?

Juliann Freedman: Oberlin College! It’s a private, liberal arts college in Oberlin, Ohio.


The Bamboo: How did you first find out about Oberlin?

Juliann Freedman: I think I had heard about it from the news or history class. It was the first college to admit black men and it was also the first coed college in the United States. I became more interested in the college when I really got into the graphic novel and musical “Fun Home.” Alison Bechdel is an Oberlin alum and “Fun Home” is based on her life.


The Bamboo:  Why did you choose this college?

Juliann Freedman: When browsing colleges online, I didn’t really think twice about Oberlin and the college didn’t really interest me. That changed when my mom signed me up for a fly-in to visit the campus, and I fell in love. I used to think that I needed a big city to survive, but there was so much going on on campus and there were so many really interesting people. I knew that the school had everything I ever desired. It’s very social justice oriented, has a very intellectual and creative vibe, because of the conservatory there is a strong music scene, there’s a strong creative writing department, and the campus was really beautiful. People there seemed really happy and all of my friends that go to Oberlin are really enjoying their time.


The Bamboo:  Why should others choose this college?

Juliann Freedman: If everything I have been saying sounds wonderful and you are curious to know more, I highly encourage giving Oberlin a shot! I suggest checking out their meme page on Facebook or flying in for the full experience. I also just felt like so many little things pushed me to go. For example, my friend at Oberlin recommended to me my now favorite podcast when I visited. Look for the little things. Because I have yet to actually step foot on campus as a student, I can really just encourage you to reach out to current students or alums.


The Bamboo:  Now that you know where you’re ending up, would you have seen yourself there during your junior year?

Juliann Freedman: Nope. In junior year I was set on NYU (we all have our NYU phase — no shame) and I thought I would attend the Gallatin School, or have an independent major, because I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. Yet, after some soul searching I realized that I was just too afraid of admitting that I wanted to be a writer and that New York was not the city for me. It just seemed easier to go to a big school and have all the resources of the big city. But after visiting schools on the college tour last year, I realized I wanted to go to a small school, which changed a lot for me. At one point my top choice was Johns Hopkins, but that thought was soon fleeting. So, no. I never thought I would be here and be here so early, but going into the next couple of months less stressed than others is a blessing.


The Bamboo:  What will you be studying?

Juliann Freedman: I am not too sure. At Oberlin, I have to figure it out by the end of sophomore year. But, I think I want to double major in Journalism and Creative Writing, and maybe minor in a social science. The dream is to write and do research for a comedic political talk show like John Oliver or Samantha Bee (the big dream is to have one of my own). I would love to pursue any sort of comedy writing, whether that be TV or books. I am not sure how far any degree will get me in the ruthless ‘biz’ of comedy, but I just want to love what I study in college.


The Bamboo:  Any advice to future seniors?

Juliann Freedman: I highly recommend touring schools! Even if you do not think you want to go to a certain school, still go! You may learn more about what size or locations you prefer and what kind of community you want. Not everything is online! Also, do not waste your money on extensive SAT prep! I believe that Compass Prep is a SCAM. I completed an 8-week, twice-a-week, 3-hours-a-class course, and it was purgatory. I ended up doing better on the ACT anyway! Also, if you visit a school and really just feel it and see yourself there and happy, Early Decision is your best bet. I feel like I could have gotten into Oberlin without applying Early Decision, but I did not want to even think about applying anywhere else. I know that I would be fine at any of the 10 other schools on my list but I felt so good at Oberlin (nothing I had felt at any other school) that it was not worth the risk of rejection.


The Bamboo next interviewed Liz Stafford —


The Bamboo: Where will you be attending college next year?

Liz Stafford: Sarah Lawrence College (SLC) — a small, private liberal arts school in New York.


The Bamboo: How did you first find out about Sarah Lawrence?

Liz Stafford: I received an email for a summer writing intensive at Sarah Lawrence in the summer before my junior year. I don’t know what pulled me to SLC because at the time I fantasized about college in the typical “football game and partying at the frat house” kind of way (why? no clue), but I decided that I wanted to become a better writer.


The Bamboo:  Why did you choose this college?  Why should others choose this college?

Liz Stafford: I was sold on Sarah Lawrence from the minute I got there. I would describe the ambiance of the school as a student-run Girl Scout camp for writers and theater kids. The school itself, being on a steep incline and having tiny, quaint dorms, was not what I had always imagined — but I found myself in love with my classes and in love with the people around me. It sounds so cheesy, but I call the people from SLC my soul mates. I found amazingly talented and motivated friends. I’ve stayed in touch with all of them and have watched them grow in the past year and a half (one of them has even become a published author! Check out “Where You Keep Your Love” on Amazon). Five out of seven girls who I talk to daily from SLC are either currently attending Sarah Lawrence or are planning to attend next fall like me. This wasn’t the college I expected to love, but I found that while I was there, I was who I wanted to be. I was a motivated student, a good friend, and a reasonably confident public transit passenger! (So cool!) I think anyone who considers themselves a motivated learner whether they get good grades or not, is a good fit for SLC.


The Bamboo:  Now that you know where you’re ending up, would you have seen yourself there during your junior year?

Liz Stafford: In junior year I felt like I was stuck and I didn’t have a chance of getting into SLC. I was pretty discouraged by my differences from the school’s average applicants, but that ended up lighting a fire within me. I basically stalked my representative and exhausted her with a million questions to make my application perfect. I even went to campus for an interview because I wanted them to know how much I wanted this. Senior Year Liz is basically Junior Year Liz’s wildest dreams come true.


The Bamboo:  What will you be studying?

Liz Stafford: I will be studying creative writing! I pretty much broadcast the fact that I am a writer and looking into the best writing programs. I chose SLC not only because it had great writing classes, but because the environment is right for me. I am an avid believer that a good environment is one of the most important things for creativity. I see the same thing in SLC that I see in Immaculate Heart. I can’t really explain it, but at best, it is an unyielding impulse to work hard. Most students here guide that motivation towards their grades but I took that and I focused on my writing. First of all, I apologize to all of the teachers whose classes I have spent mercilessly typing or scribbling but I am putting it to good use!  From what I can tell, I’ve been preparing myself for the kind of learning I will do at SLC — one that is more than just a grade.


The Bamboo:  Any advice to future seniors?

Liz Stafford: My advice is this: Don’t settle for anything less than you are capable of. If you look at a college and you think, “those are the kind of students I would like to get to know better,” then you are fully capable of going there and thriving.


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