Sports have always been a big part of my life. If I wasn't playing sports, I was watching them or talking about them. I knew that I wanted to be around sports for as long as possible, but it was also apparent that I wasn't going to be playing them professionally. That's when I turned my focus to being a journalist or a reporter.
Going into high school, I had no idea where I wanted to go to college. The three main aspects that I wanted in my future school were a good journalism program, school spirit and competitive sports teams.
The first time I did research on colleges was in my English class freshman year as part of an assignment. I didn't know where to start. The person sitting next to me happened to be wearing a Syracuse University sweatshirt so I did a simple Google search to learn more about Syracuse. My cousin had graduated from Syracuse years prior, and I followed their basketball team, but that was all. I never even considered applying there. I didn't even know if they had a journalism school. I quickly learned that Syracuse's Newhouse School is one of the most competitive journalism schools in the nation.
I looked at my resume and realized that I had nothing that made me stand out — nothing that showed my desire to become a journalist — and I knew that needed to change. I started attending journalism camps and joined my school newspaper. This year, I was named the sports editor for the paper, which gave me a small sample of what life as a journalist would be like.
By the time application season arrived, I knew where I wanted to go to college and what I wanted to study, but there was still a lot of work to do. The application process can be difficult. The hardest part is the overwhelming feeling I felt when looking at all the different supplemental questions from the colleges. After filling out my first two supplemental questions, I realized that my answers were very similar. Even though the questions were worded differently, the colleges wanted to know the same things. For the most part, the questions were a chance to tell the colleges about myself and, in a way, brag a little bit. Using this, I formed a generic answer, and just added details about each college for their application. This helped me manage my time better and write more in-depth answers so I no longer felt overwhelmed.
One of the steps in the process I had never thought about was the alumni interview. I personally enjoyed being able to interview and talk to someone in person. Colleges can learn a lot about you on paper, but they can never truly know you the same way as when you meet someone in person. The interview allows them to get to know you, and for you to stand out. This is also a great time to ask questions to an alumni. They have firsthand experience about the university, and are happy to answer your questions.
After doing all the applications, interviews, tests and so on comes the hardest part: the waiting. You are no longer in control of your application, you can only hope that you did enough. For me, the most frustrating part was not knowing when the decisions would be sent out. Most colleges said something like "By the end of January," but that doesn't narrow it down. Checking social media every night, you see a new person getting into their dream school. As happy as you are for them, you are equally — if not more — anxious about your own decision.
Finally, after all the work and waiting, I received the long-awaited email notifying me that I was accepted to Syracuse. At this point in the process I just wanted to know where I would be living and going to school in the fall. Getting your first acceptance letter helps ease your nerves. In the end, all of the hard work and anticipation is worth it to know you did your best and were rewarded for it.
About the writer: Dylan Greenhouse is a high school senior who will be attending Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications this fall.
A previous version of this article originally appeared on College Confidential in May 2020
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