SLZ101: Intro to Samantha

Hi, I’m Samantha! I was accepted to Stanford REA at 5:06 PM on Friday, December 9, 2011 while at school studying for Science Olympiad. It was, needless to say, amazing. My friends who were with me at the time later said that I looked like I was having a stroke from sheer excitement. Anyway, I’ll follow the trend of my peers and post a bit about my academic profile.


I recently graduated from a public high school in suburban Minnesota. My former school has about 2200 students and typically sends about 1-2 kids per year to a HYPSM (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, MIT) school or equivalent. Most students attend the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

BY THE NUMBERS (as they stood when I applied):

  • Unweighted GPA: 3.817/4.000. My GPA wasn’t the best, but I had by far the most rigorous courseload of anyone at my school.
  • Rank: 77/560. See above.
  • APs: Calculus BC 4, US History 5, European History 3, English Language and Composition 5, Chemistry* 3, Biology* 4, Human Geography* 3; awaiting scores on Physics C Mechanics, Physics C Electricity and Magnetism, Computer Science, English Literature, Statistics
  • SAT I: Reading 790, Math 750, Writing 740
  • SAT II: US History 780, Math II 760, Biology-M 740
  • ACT: English 35, Math 33, Reading 36, Science 35 (composite: 35)
  • PSAT: 216

* – I took Bio and HumGeo online through Northwestern University’s Gifted Learning Links. I admittedly didn’t put as much effort into them as I could have, but I was also independently studying Chem through my school. Junior year was definitely tough for me.

My numbers weren’t the best, especially in the GPA/rank area, but clearly they were good enough. To use a cliche, numbers aren’t everything.

I was a National Merit semifinalist (I’m a finalist now, but that wasn’t released when I applied) and an AP Scholar with Distinction.
I was also captain of my school’s Science Olympiad team and we’ve been to nationals three times and state champions twice (both of which were reflected in my application; we came in second my senior year and did not go to nationals). I was also captain of my school’s quiz bowl and knowledge bowl teams and we’ve been to the NAQT national tournament in Atlanta once (though that happened after I applied). I was also captain of my school’s math team, but I was made captain after I applied. I also did colorguard and debate for two years each and was a member of my school’s NHS chapter.
After I applied to Stanford but before I was accepted, I created a Science Bowl team with three of my friends and we made the state playoffs, though we did not win the state tournament. Stanford called my school and asked for my first quarter grades and anything I had done in the school year sometime after I applied, so they knew about SciBowl.
I’ve also done biology research at the Philippines chapter of the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) (I was an intern for two weeks last summer), Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST) (I developed my own experiment on the effects of ethanol on developing zebrafish), and Carleton College (I developed my own experiment on the correlation between rank of olive baboons and longevity).
I’m also 15 years old (SIXTEEN in less than a week!). I don’t know how my age affected my application, if at all, but it’s just something you may want to consider while looking at my academic profile. Another curious thing about me is that I won a game show when I was 10. It was so long ago that I doubt it was relevant to my application, but it’s on my resume, so I thought I’d mention it here.

I was going to put something about my essays here, but this post is long enough already. I’ll write about essays later.

I hope to major in something science-y, probably biology-related. After college, grad school is definitely happening – possibly a Ph.D., possibly an M.D., or even both (Ph.D.-M.D.)! I don’t really know. Medical research seems like a plausible career for me, but who knows? I could spontaneously decide to become a baker.
…Except that would never happen, because I baked and frosted a cake with my sister within the last couple days and it was exhausting and stressful. I don’t see a future in the culinary arts for me.

Umm… I’m not sure. Magic and luck?

Sorry, the minds of college admissions officers are as enigmatic to me as they are to you. I have some theories, though, which I’ll elaborate on later.

Sorry, this has been really long, but I have one more thing!


Funnily, I also seriously considered Harvey Mudd and Johns Hopkins as my top picks throughout my high school career. I was actually ready to apply to JHU early decision when my counselor asked me if I would have any regrets. I then realized that yeah, I would regret not applying to Stanford. I had heard about the culture and the stellar academics, but the culture was what sold me. I wanted a more laid-back (or, as they say, “chill”) atmosphere than the ominous “work yourself to death” atmosphere East Coast schools seemed to give off (disclaimer: I know some people thrive in this atmosphere; it just didn’t feel right for me); I also wanted a school that had a strong STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) program as well as a strong humanities program. So I applied to Stanford REA (Restricted Early Action – you can only apply to one school REA, but if you’re accepted you can apply to more schools Regular Decision) and, when I was accepted, decided not to apply to the other 13 schools on my list. I haven’t regretted it one bit. I was also accepted to a couple of ‘safety’ schools. However, the ‘safeties’ I applied to I was completely prepared to go to. I did not think that I would get in to that good of a school, and I was absolutely convinced that Stanford would reject me. In short, I got very, very lucky.

So, I hope my voice is somewhat unique in this lovely group of people! I chose FroSoCo (Freshman-Sophomore College) as my #1 pick for a dorm, so hopefully I’ll be able to give some insight into how that works this fall. I also have a lot of theories about how college admissions works and am always happy to give advice about the college application process.

And if you read all of this:

Neil Patrick Harris is one of the best people out there. If you haven't already seen it, I recommend Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

Expect to see more of me in the future,

This entry was posted in Acceptance, Admission, Applying, College, My Story, Samantha, Stanford. Bookmark the permalink.

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