Tags: Notre Dame
Institution: Notre Dame University
Study: Major in neuroscience on a pre-med track
High School Experience
I went to an all girls Catholic high school, so it definitely was a unique experience. I loved the camaraderie us girls had, and I was very involved, which I think is what helped me have a great experience. My school had a lot of different ways to be active, and I tried to make the most of it by involving myself in the community, which undoubtedly made it so enjoyable. On the flip side, I definitely had some issues, particularly with the administration. One thing that always irked me was that students couldn’t take a science class until their sophomore year unless they tested into honors bio as a freshman. Luckily, I did that, but it bothered me that a self-proclaimed STEM school didn’t even offer regular science courses until the second year of high school. Also, I played lacrosse, and the program was definitely low on the totem pole in comparison with others. The way the athletic director handled our team and disrespected us is what led me to not play my senior year, unfortunately But overall I think what you put into high school is what you get out of it, so I made a concerted effort to be involved and have fun!
I was always mostly interested in science, so I took as many sciences as I could!! There had to be some exceptions made for my schedule so that I could take some courses (for example, I had to take AP chem at the nearby all boys school because I had scheduling conflicts). I graduated with 7 science credits, so that definitely was my main academic interest!
AP World History with a 4. AP Biology with a 4. AP Physics with a 3. AP Language and Comp with a 5. APUSH with a 5. My senior year I took AP Comp Gov, AP Chem, AP Calculus, AP Literature and Comp, and AP Psych and am still waiting on those scores.
4.0 unweighted, 4.5 weighted
SAT Biology: 720
SAT Literature: 780
My counselor and I had a really great relationship; without me even inquiring, she wrote a separate special letter of recommendation to Notre Dame because that’s where I wanted to go the most. The two teachers who wrote my recommendations were my APUSH teacher and AP physics teacher. My APUSH teacher and I just had a really great relationship; he knew I was a hard worker and I loved his class, and I always made an effort to come to office hours even just to chat. My AP physics teacher and I had a very strong relationship but not because I was always the star student in that class. I was originally in honors physics but switched into AP last minute. I actually completely failed my first exam which absolutely devastated me because I thought that was setting the tone for the rest of my experience in that class. I went in to talk to my teacher and just started uncontrollably sobbing, but he was so kind and just really encouraged me to keep going and to keep trying. So, I did. I came in almost every day to office hours and he gave me extra worksheets for practice. Since then, I never received a poor grade on an exam again. That class never really got easier for me, but I ended with an A and my teacher really became a mentor to me. He saw that I didn’t give up and still chugged along despite it not ever really coming easily to me. It was the most challenging yet most rewarding experience of my high school career.
When it comes to writing, I prefer creative writing a lot more. And so that really served as the basis for my essays. My common app was all about my love for words; I talked about my love for writing outlandish novellas as a kid, my love for making Quizlets and slipping in fun science puns (that earned me the title of Quizlet Queen throughout high school), and my love for writing poetry. Throughout this essay, I was able to weave in the descriptive phrases and visuals that I love creating. All my essays had some kind of creative style to them; I answered the prompts but was able to really get my voice heard through all of them.
I think it was just a combination of my grades and test scores, the fact that I was really committed to a couple strong extracurriculars versus just kinda dabbling in a dozen, and definitely my essays.
Challenge yourself; top notch schools want to see that you choose to take hard courses and can do well in them. And even when it’s hard, it never ever ever hurts to ask for help. Your ego doesn’t have to be bruised if you don’t let it. Find what you love and run with it; the biggest thing counselors and people told me was that colleges want to see more of a commitment to a couple activities versus just being in every club but not having a leadership role or involvement. Never give up; it can be a grind for sure, but you are more than capable of achieving your goals. Figure out what it is you want to accomplish, and that will drive you to do whatever you can to get there. And don’t forget to enjoy yourself; high school is supposed to be fun and a time to kind of explore what person you want to be. Make the most of it!
Notre Dame has been a part of my family since before I was born. My dad went to grad school there, and so we have always been Fighting Irish fans. My older brother wanted to go there more than anything; his tenth birthday gift was going to an ND game! He knew exactly what he wanted and will now be a junior there. I didn’t always know that I wanted ND, and part of me was somewhat stubborn and said that I didn’t want to do what my brother did just because we are so similar. But I really found my own love for the school over the years outside of my familial connections. I attended two academic camps there and really got a feel for the school. I absolutely love the amazing community there and the sense of compassion that courses through the campus. I like that it’s more collaborative versus cutthroat competitive. I like that there’s an emphasis on educating the whole person, and I know ND will help me become a better person whose success will hopefully make the world a better place.