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CCK Goes To College: Part 1

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Even from those of you who have followed my blog all along, I’ve kept much of my personal life a mystery. Partially, I was worried about privacy. However, I also simply didn’t think anyone would be interested in hearing about my daily life. But since I seem to be wrong (I love hearing about others’ lives too), here’s a little more about what I’ve been up to these past few years. I won’t start at the very beginning, even though Julie Andrews says it’s a very good place to start. Instead, I’ll start with my senior year of high school.

During my senior year of high school, I unfortunately did not go about college hunting in the best way. If it wasn’t Ivy League, I didn’t even want to look at a school. I very much wish I could go back and tell my high-school self how crazy her thinking was.

I fell in love with UPenn as soon as I set foot on campus. The only problem: Nobody told them that Katie was destined for their school. When the college letter arrived, it was suspiciously thin.

My dream school waitlisted me?!

Looking back, I know the waitlist letter, which ultimately turned into a rejection, didn’t have anything to do with my worth; it simply meant the admission department decided I wasn’t the right fit at the time. To me, though, it felt like I wasn’t good enough. Even now, I still feel a little ashamed admitting my rejection.

After shedding many tears over the matter (and literally throwing the waitlist letter in the fire. Burn!!!!), I settled on Bryn Mawr College. It was quiet and peaceful but also close to an urban setting. It was a good school, far from home, and it even participated in a consortium with UPenn, meaning I could take classes at my dream university.

Bryn Mawr was a terrific school, and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting great girls and taking advantage of the school’s close proximity to Philadelphia. I even prefer Philly to NYC, because it’s smaller and more manageable whilst still being jam-packed with fun. But the school just wasn’t right for me. You know how sometimes you can feel—in your heart—that something’s just not right? For me, Bryn Mawr was too small. It was difficult to get into all the classes I desired, since most only offered one section. I found myself signed up for classes simply because they fit my schedule: NOT cool when you’re paying for each course. After my first year away, I transferred to SMU in Dallas.

Update: click for My College Story – Part 2.

Question of the Day:
How did you choose what college to attend, if you attended one? (Or, how do you plan to choose?)

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Katie is the baker, photographer, and author of the popular blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating a balanced diet that includes dessert every single day. More about Katie—> 

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  1. Ilana says:

    You said “Let’s start at the very beginning” and I sang outloud “a very good place to staaaart” and then I read the rest of the sentence. Haha!

    I *know* how you felt! The embarrassment! I went to a performing arts high school and I was kind of the “star singer.” Everyone and their mom expected me to go to Julliard (even though I honestly didn’t want to!!) … so I sent my CD in for a premliminary audition, and they didn’t even ask to see me in person! So embarrassing. Then I didn’t get into my #1 school either (NYU), and sudden;y all my friends were being accepted to college and all I had left were the state schools I’d applied to. I got in for music performance and music education, and chose music performance. Apparently it didn’t matter, though … by the end of the first semester I’d dropped the music program (loathed it!), picked up an English major, and decided to transfer back to the city. I went to Queens College, a public school, and now I think i have developed “reverse snobbery.” I’m the only person in my family who goes to a public school (now I’m studying towards grad school) – all seven of my brothers/step siblings go to private schools and their tuition all costs at least 10x mine, if not 20x, so I’m proud not only of my fiscally responsible education choice but also the fact that I have received a FANTASTIC education and will continue to receive it, in the hallowed halls of public ed.

    1. Ilana, Oh my gosh, my grandma went to both Queens College AND Julliard! 🙂
      P.S. NYU turns down all the best students; my sister didn’t get in either. I hate that school! 🙁

  2. That sucks the 1st one wasn’t right for you 🙁
    I picked my uni cos it was an hour from home,whcih meant I could keep on riding my horse at weekends. It sucked though – my ED took over, I had no friends and I ended up moving back home and commuting!! I’ve got 1 year left now..I can’t wait for it to be over!

  3. I love these CCV life story posts! Thank you for sharing with us! 🙂

  4. Katie says:

    I loved reading about your real life!! Sounds like it worked out in the end…I thought seriously about transferring in college too, but I never bit the bullet. I felt like I had worked too hard to move and didn’t want my classes to not count for anything. I went to CU in Boulder, CO. I only applied to one school and I went there. It wasn’t perfect for me (way too big and liberal) – but I DID meet my husband there, got a degree, and now have a job doing what I want to do, so it all worked out. 🙂

    I had a good friend that went to SMU! I always thought it sounded like a good place to be!

  5. abby says:

    thank you so much for sharing. that was so brave. sharing rejection stories are always hard. for me, i never want to show anyone that i’m less than perfect, so i can really appreciate how much courage it takes to write something like you did. i STILL don’t tell people what colleges didn’t accept me! but in your case (and mine too) it is just a case of too many kids who are worthy, and the luckier ones, not the “better” ones get to go.

  6. Leslie says:

    Perfect SAT scores?!?
    I knew you were smart, and it shows through your post, but OMG!!!
    Haha, bows to CCV 🙂

  7. Oh, Katie. You are so much wiser than I was … I followed a guy to college (to the University of Tennessee, not exactly a prestigious school). The guy and I broke up before I even started freshman year, but UT turned out to be a great place for me. It is a great school for Nuclear Engineering; they let me very easily pursue a second major, minor, honors degree (pretty much anything I want); it’s a big school with a great party atmosphere and a great study atmosphere, if you know where to look. It’s also secretly one of the best schools for what I studied in grad school and hope to do for a living someday (empirical modeling for system health monitoring). I ended up staying at UT for nine years (well, technically I’m still there as a post-doc right now), and I think it was probably the best decision I could have made. You’ve inspired me to maybe do a post soon about how I ended up at my college and in my field. Can’t wait to see how yours turned out 🙂

    1. radioactivegan,
      I wish I’d gone to UT originally! Most of my friends went there, and they had an amazing time. Plus, with warm weather AND a fun atmosphere, you can’t get much better than Austin!

  8. Gisela says:

    Hey Katie,
    It would be great if you could do a post on eating healthy on vacation, especially how you deal with when you first arrive and haven’t had time to go grocery shopping yet. I always struggle with that! And working out too. Love your blog by the way!

  9. christina says:

    omg katie you better finish that story!!!! i loved it so far. you wrote it so well and i’m curious for more! 🙂

  10. lovelisa says:

    u are beautiful! and i love your outfit!

  11. McKella says:

    I wasn’t picky with schools. I ended up going to Weber State, which is in my hometown. It wasn’t my first choice. I had a bunch of theater scholarships to other schools, but it didn’t feel right, so I dumped them to study art at Weber because it was close to home, so I stayed with my parents while I worked to pay tuition. I changed my major a year later to study English Creative Writing, because I’ve wanted to be a novelist since I was four years old.
    I’m a first-generation college student, so I didn’t feel the need to get into an “impressive” school, I just wanted a Bachelor’s from an accredited school. Also, the schools out here are much cheaper, only a few hundred per course.
    I graduated with my Bachelor’s in May, and I just turned 22! One big life goal down!

  12. Laura says:

    Hi katie!
    i actually had a similar experience. i had perfect SAT scores too, an impressive list of extracurriculars (including varsity softball and volleyball, haha!) as well as yearbook editor and drama club president. i had my heart dead-set on Yale. But, unfortunately (or so i thought), so did about 30 of my smartest classmates. i went to an extremely prestigious, small private high school in Houston, TX (have you heard of St. John’s????!!!!??) so every other person who applied to Yale was insanely qualified as well. it turns out, only 4 out of 30 people ended up getting in to Yale, and i was not one of them. i had the same “ivy league complex” as you and was pretty devastated. But, then i fell in love with the University of Southern California (USC). i visited the campus and decided it was absolutely perfect for me. i am NOT a cold-weather girl, i am very social and wanted a school with greek life and a great social scene, and i love football, so USC seemed like the perfect place for me. OH MY GOD. i could not imagine my life without USC. Not getting into Yale was SUCH a blessing because i literally could not be any happier than i am at USC. i have already made some incredible connections and am 100% positive that i will end up being more successful in life and my career than i would have been at Yale. if i could send a message to all high school seniors stressing about college, i would tell them that you HAVE to follow your heart, because the perfect place for you may not be where you have dreamed of going all your life!!
    PS i have a TON of friends that go to SMU b/c i am from Houston!!!
    PPS i LOVE your blog!!!

    1. Laura,
      Wow, seriously, we sound like the exact same person! I am so happy I didn’t get into UPenn, if for no other reason than the fact that it opened my eyes to the fact that there are good schools outside of the Ivies (and good students who go to them!). I’ve never heard of St. John’s, but then again, I don’t really know the Houston area too well. But I’m so glad to hear your situation worked out for the best, too. Things have a funny way of doing that, it seems! 🙂

  13. Lyza says:

    Hey, were you ever on the track team at Bryn mawr?! A friend I used to have was the captain, her name was Jessica…I’d always hear crazy stories about how the coach was the real hey there delilah, and about all the lesbian parties and stuff!! That’s so crazy that you went there lol! And then the whole Luke Wilson drama…lol.

    I adore your site, it’s helped me eat way healthier 🙂 I actually really don’t even eat desserts now, healthy or not, but it was definitely a step forward for me in my quest to do so!

    Now that I think about it, there are some things I do–I love putting lots of bittersweet cocoa, blueberries and cinnamon in my oatmeal–I don’t consider that a dessert bc it’s so healthy 🙂 I guess it kinda is though!

    My little sister will be attending Smith College this year, which is semi-nearby. It’s exciting!

    Just thought that was interesting that a blog I follow was so close to some people I knew!

    1. Lyza,
      I actually wasn’t on the team… but I had a friend who was.

      LOL yes, the Lesbian parties were insane. Honestly, it was a bit much for me. I’m not homophobic (nor conservative), but it was culture shock coming from a small, conservative Texas town. But we did have one “Bra party” that was pretty awesome. And it was amazing to see all the girls rocking their bodies in their bras, bot caring about body image because there were no boys to see them!

  14. katie says:

    hey there!!! I live on long island!!!! where on long island are u going? u can email me for privacy lol 🙂 so cool if we could do a meet up! xoxoo

    1. Katie,
      I’ll email you!! 🙂

  15. I got rejected from my first choice college too – Amherst! I even applied early decision. I was super embarrassed because my boyfriend at the time was already enrolled there. Like you, I “settled” and went to UMass Amherst for two years but I hated it. The school just wasn’t right for me, so I transferred to Penn State as a junior. My family has a long history of PSU graduates and I’ve been a life-long fan. I was very happy there and am soooo glad I went! Looking back, Amherst didn’t even have my major – I was just caught up in the prestige and wanting to be with my bf. Everything worked out in end though, because I loved Penn State and I married Lucas! 🙂

  16. Katie says:

    That’s funny you went to Bryn Mawr, that is really close to me (I live in the philly burbs) lol! My story is sort of the opposite (reverse snobbery). I went to a really prestigious public school district where everyone is rich thin smart and pretty (where i live it’s hard to believe there is any type of obesity problem in the us). I, on the other hand as an angsty teen, was not going to buy into any of it. (and yes i was vegetarian). I skipped class, cut pep rallies, joined 1 extracurricular (b/c my parents forced me) and pretty much didn’t try. I went to community college and got my degree and realized I loved college! I transfered to Temple University (in philly!) but it wasn’t the right fit (too big!) and i transfered to a small private school in the city. So, anyway not that you really care about my life , but it just goes to show you never know where you are going to end up. As John Lennon says ,” life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

    1. Katie,
      You rock for defying the norms! Ooh, and Temple is kinda a kindred school to Bryn Mawr, cause we’re both owls :)!

  17. Mitri says:

    I thought I had to go to prestigious, private, liberal arts schools, too. 😉 I got into Hamilton and Ithaca in NY, got rejected by Skidmore, Middlebury, etc. Went to Ithaca because of scholarship… and there were a lot of nice things about the school, but I just wasn’t super happy and I missed my bf and family terribly. Now I go to a LOT less prestigious school here in Texas, but I’m happier. 🙂

    I know what you mean though, about being irrationally embarrassed or disappointed… I KNOW I’m happier here, but there’s some personal/social/cultural expectation that I should be at some really high-up school, doing “great things”– whatever those things are! 😛

    1. Mitri,
      My cousin went to Ithaca! She loved it. It’s cold though!! LOL

  18. Rachel says:

    Your photo is cute! i was always the *star* art student, was in every art club, drew and painted like a fiend, everyone wanted me to go to an art school, but they’re hard to afford and i really didn’t want to be so engrossed in a singular subject. I also wanted to stay close to home, my mom and I knew that a close (10 minutes away) community college would be good for now. The art teachers there are great! I’m transferring to a local uni next year, everyone is still pushing me for art school though. I feel like the world is making me out to be a modern day Leonardo da Vinci and it’s frustrating, it’s not that i’m modest, but i KNOW i still have the ability to progress so much more. After being over-glorified constantly, I get discourage when I don’t get scholarships, it’s sort of a kick in the pants.

    sorry for the novel!

  19. I went to University of Illinois, which is a really good state school and one of the best engineering programs in the country (I was a CS major). All of it was kind of randomly chosen though. Everyone thought I should apply to MIT and Berkeley, but realistically, the costs were so high in comparison, I never got around to applying to those places. I was looking at this dinky, private, engineering school, but my bf at the time was also at U of I, so lo and behold, I went there. Ironically, we broke up before I even started college (he was a year older); talk about awkward. However, I had a really great time at that school and got good job offers afterward (the same sorts of places if I had gone to MIT), for a much cheaper price tag. 🙂

    Now grad school, that may be a different story…

  20. *Andrea* says:

    thanks for sharing!!!! college admission process is so lame in my opinion – such a crapshoot! certain colleges accept more from certain high schools or ‘feeders’ and then there’s the whole legacy thing, blahblah haha. one kid form my high school got into harvard but not boston college (where i graduated this spring)! so random. anyways i got into all the schools i applied to but it was such a difficult decision..i ultimately chose bc over georgetown because it would save my parents money for visits (no airplane necessary) and for moving in, etc. i also got a general feeling of happiness on the campus- the beautiful architecture, my admission to the honors program, the benefits of being in a middle size school close to the city but in a quiet area. however, not being at an ivy created feelings of inadequacy in me, which is silly! and i remember being mad at myself for not applying to any ivy league schools.

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