By: Jordan Wong
It was all up to this moment. As I typed in my username and password to get into the admissions portal at 6:59 PM on December 13th, my heartbeat skipped a couple beats after every successive keystroke. My cursor couldn’t even travel in a straight line to the big button that reads “CHECK ADMISSION STATUS”.
The page changes, accompanied by a blaring song with my speakers and one singular word on the screen:
I jumped up in elation with my family joining me. I finally did it! Everything that high school built up to finally was resolved in this one moment: I was going to college. Not just any college, but my dream school, the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), one of the eight prestigious Ivy League schools. As I stared at the screen, I thought about all the work I had done during high school that allowed me to get to this incredible moment.
I remember the very first moment that going to Penn entered in my mind. When I was much younger, I went to Philadelphia with my family because my dad was working there. I remember loving the city so much, and seeing this, my mom said “If you like the city, then you may want to consider Penn for college.” Me, not knowing anything about the school, agreed immediately because I loved the city. After junior year ended, I visited Penn with my classmates during our school college tour and I was entranced by the campus and the spirit of community and collaboration that permeated everywhere I walked. Applying to Penn wasn’t going to be easy as it is one of the most highly selective colleges in the nation, admitting a measly 8.4% of all applicants for the class of 2022. When I saw early on how hard it was to get in at Penn, I wasn’t discouraged: it only increased my resolve to get into the university to prove to myself that I was capable of accomplishing big things.
As soon as I started high school I got to work – I chose some of the most rigorous classes in my school and studied hard until my grades were all A’s. In freshman year, however, that didn’t work out completely as planned: the rigor introduced by the new honors courses that I was taking (Spanish 3 Honors and Geometry Honors) were completely different than what I had experienced in middle school – and I didn’t achieve my goal of attaining an A for the year in those classes. Also, juggling my school workload with my extra-curricular activities (robotics and Joshua’s Heart) was tough at the beginning, and added to the difficulty of maintaining my grades. But, as the years progressed, I got better and better grades – and even attained the highest grades during the first Semester of Senior year, when I also had a new challenge to conquer – the challenge of the college application process.
Thankfully, my involvement with Joshua’s Heart Foundation (JHF) strengthened my application. I believe that through my work and leadership at Joshua’s Heart I was able to show that, in addition to being a good student, I was also able to make an impact in the lives of the less fortunate and make a difference in the South Florida community. This led me to write about JHF, being on the Junior Advisory Board (JAB), and my Aid for Antipolo project in my Common App essay. The Common App essay also called the “Personal Statement” is the essay sent to all of the college’s students apply to. (Quick side note: for everyone out there applying to college, writing your Common App essay during the summer before senior year saves you so much work later. The first semester of senior year is filled not only with some of the hardest classes you would have taken to date, but also the college application process which takes a lot of time because of all the research required in developing a college list (i.e. list of colleges to apply to). Writing, reviewing and finalizing the 650-word Personal Statement before the start of the school year really saved me a good deal of stress.)
My final college list consisted of 15 schools. With Penn being my first choice/dream school, I applied under the early decision (ED) plan, which meant that if I got accepted, I would have to attend because the admission is binding. Students apply ED to their first choice/dream school because the admission chances, especially at Ivy League schools, are better. So, my plan was to do all of my applications for my early decision/early action schools and start some of the applications for the regular decision schools on my list as a contingency plan if I didn’t get into Penn. This way I wouldn’t get swamped during Christmas break finishing all the applications and supplemental essays to meet the January 1st deadline. After I got in, it felt as if a huge weight got lifted off my chest – all of the hard work I had done finally turned into something concrete. Now, all of the other college applications didn’t matter, and I was more ecstatic that I did not have to do one more essay. But, something else got lifted with that weight: my motivation.
Something I only heard rumors about finally hit me – senioritis. I had finally achieved the goal that high school builds up to: getting into college. Now I still had more than half a year of school left to go, not to mention AP tests. When I got back to school the next day I was already feeling it – every step I took at school felt like it took mountains of effort. As I got back home that day and stared at the ceiling (because I wasn’t going to do homework) I realized I had to buckle down and not let my grades go completely to the dumps because although I worked hard and got into Penn, they could rescind my admission: the worst fate for any senioritis afflicted senior. So, I steeled my nerves and went back into the fray, and, as of the writing of this, I am keeping afloat just enough to not suffer that dreaded fate – the vision of my new life at college serving as the lighthouse to guide me through the rest of the year.
Although I’m a bit burnt out, I still recognize all of the forces that helped me get to where I am. I’m especially thankful for my time at JHF because not only did it help me grow as a person, but it also provided me with opportunities to make a difference in my community and elsewhere. I will forever treasure the friendships I made with the JAB members, how much fun we had at each food distribution and the amazing feeling we got when we made people smile. I will take these memories with me to college and hope to replicate the amazing experience. I am proud to be a lifetime ambassador of Joshua’s Heart.