HISD hosted its annual Top-Tier College Night on Oct. 6, and hundreds of students and their families came out to learn more about what Ivy League and other high-profile institutions have to offer, as well as what qualities they are looking for in applicants.
“Some of our students have amazing grades, and some don’t,” explained Justin Segal, a representative from the University of Pennsylvania. “But comparing yourself to others is not really fair, because grades don’t tell the whole story. We’re more focused on if your application is consistent with your stated interests. Because if you’re applying to business school, but all you’ve done so far is arts and theatre, there’s a bit of a disconnect there.”
Steve Gilliland, a representative of Harvard University, agreed. “You may not have a clue about what you want to do,” he said, “but what admissions officers want to know is ‘here’s how I make decisions, and here’s how I’m going to figure it out.’”
Danny Rojas, senior manager of the district’s EMERGE program, noted that this event helps dispel the myth that the best choice for higher education is usually nearby. “There’s this misconception that the most-affordable option is always in state, but what we find is that many of these top-tier schools can meet 100 percent of need,” he said.
Kate Ham from the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts used the event to quiz representatives on students’ social lives. “I already have my list [of top choices],” said the senior, who is looking primarily at Yale and Pomona, “but I want to know what life is like on campus so I can decide.”
Meanwhile, Washington High School senior Raymond Flowers was gathering information. “I’m just looking right now,” he said. “Nobody in my family ever really went to college, so I’m hoping to start a new trend.”