Published May 9, 2023
BY EMMA BROWN
After months of test preparation, essay drafting and application revisions, the CHS Class of 2023 is reaping the benefits of their hard work. The successes of many seniors’ college applications tells a tale of a class with an unprecedented admission rate, particularly to prestigious universities like Dartmouth College and Stanford University.
When crafting their applications, many of this year’s seniors focused on creating a cohesive profile. Through the organization of their Common Application activities section, supplemental essays and letters of recommendation, students can tell a clear story of their time in high school.
“The thing that helped me out the most was just that it was super clear that I was on this direct path,” says senior Riley Palshaw, who was not rejected from any of the 14 universities to which she applied and will be studying Strategic Communication at the Missouri School of Journalism. “My résumé, essays and a lot of my extracurriculars lined up with either journalism or communications.”
Though universities debate the merits of standardized testing, with many schools transitioning to test-blind or test-optional models, some CHS students credit their success in part to high test scores.
“Take the ACT and SAT unless you are just applying to the Universities of California,” says senior Siri Panetta, who scored a 35 on the ACT and will be studying Political Science at Harvard University. “It definitely helps because if you get a good score, it’s only going to help you.”
When writing essays for their applications, seniors focused on making themselves stand out by telling unique stories about their life and interests.
“Basically my whole theme of my Common Application was how living in Big Sur has made me able to adapt to my environment,” says senior Stella Foster, who will be studying International Business at the University of Southern California. “So I was basically saying, ‘Wherever life takes me, I’ll be able to adapt to where I am,’ signifying that I can adapt to USC.”
With acceptances to Duke University, U.C. Berkeley, Vanderbilt University, Rice University and more, making the decision of where to spend their next four years was a difficult task for the Class of 2023. When weighing their options, factors such as location, school size and academic opportunities were most important to seniors.
“Harvard was the most unrealistic school that I applied to because it was just so far out there,” says Panetta, who was also accepted to Stanford University, U.C. Berkeley, U.C. Los Angeles and Dartmouth College. “Obviously Stanford and Harvard are right up there, but for me, as a Political Science major, Harvard seemed like the better choice.”
Ultimately, seniors recommend that high school students focus on pursuing activities that they care about, which will make them stand out when they apply to colleges.
“A lot of people can overlook their activities section as just listing the sports they play and the clubs they’re in, but you can be really creative there,” says senior Zach Seifert, who will be attending Stanford University. “There’s a lot of room to stand out in every part of your application.”