First and foremost, to all those who have sent in or are about to send in their early applications– congratulations on finishing! I can remember feeling significantly less stressed around November 1, 2009, with the weight of my three early applications no longer bearing down on me (…on another note, has it already been that long since I was a senior?!).
You may have noticed I said three early applications, revealing that I didn’t apply to Yale via the single choice early action (SCEA) program. My admissions story is a little atypical, although if you are considering or have already begun the process of athletics recruiting, parts of it will probably be familiar to you. The summer before my senior year, I made the decision to begin the recruiting process in order to continue fencing in college. (If you’ve never seen fencing, check out the video below of the Yale Fencing team from a few years back:
The process of athletics recruitment can be daunting, and it can begin as early as sophomore year in high school: in many cases, it involves the preparation of various materials, like recruiting films (videos of you playing your sport), making “official visits,” filling out recruiting questionnaires, etc. Athletes who are recruited at the DI level also register with the NCAA, and many make a commitment to a given school at the beginning of their senior year.
However, because I wasn’t interested in making any binding commitments, when I was considering colleges, I only contacted Division III programs (where the recruitment process has a little more flexibility). Still, by the time the early deadlines rolled around, I was fairly certain that my top choice was another great New England school, where the fencing coach had given me his support. Come December 15th, I was lucky enough to be celebrating three different acceptances through three separate early applications (one from my then-first choice school, and two from other early notification programs), and if I remember correctly, when I finally got all of my admission decision notification emails, I drove around in my neighborhood blasting the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” from my car speakers on repeat for about thirty minutes.
So how did I end up at Yale, and fencing with a Division I program? As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t want to make any commitments until I heard back from all of my schools, and I submitted three other applications under the regular decision cycle. I saw the blue “Welcome to Yale” screen months after I officially “got into college.” In any case, my final matriculation decision was made months after December 15th, about a few hours before the final response deadline of May 1st (I procrastinated making my final decision with the same gusto I procrastinated writing my applications). A little secret about the college admissions process: the final decision can be the most difficult step of the journey.
While I could ramble for days about the details of how I made my final decision to come to Yale, this story has a very happy ending: Yale was, and continues to be, the absolute best place for me in nearly every way possible.
And what about fencing? That story has yet another happy ending: When I arrived on campus, I touched base with the Yale Fencing Coach and Women’s Captain, and I was lucky enough to join the fencing team as a walk on (i.e. non-recruited), joining a program with a long and decorated (Olympic, even) history.
In the end, don’t stress too much about the application process. Take your time making the important decisions. In the end, the results might take you by surprise.