With a quirky sense of humor, a crooked smile and a mop of unruly hair, Jack Zhao sat down with me recently to discuss his time at Cape Henry and his recent admission to his top college choice, the University of California at Berkeley. After a trip to California two years ago, Jack has known for a while that Berkeley was his top choice but also has been aware of its highly competitive admission standards, especially for international students.
Since Berkeley does not offer early decision, Jack decided his best bet was to keep his options open – so he applied to over 20 schools! While he could not remember all of the schools to which he applied or was admitted, he did remember being admitted to UC Davis, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, Penn State, Fordham, and the University of Miami. The University of California at San Diego was his back-up school so it was a good thing he was admitted there – because he was not initially admitted to UC Berkeley. Instead, he was waitlisted. So while everyone else was celebrating their college admissions, Jack was the only Cape Henry senior who was still writing college essays in April. He just learned in early May that he was chosen for admission from the waitlist.
Jack is excited to be attending Berkeley in the fall because, as he says, their environmental science program is the best in the U.S. Jack plans to study environmental design and sustainability, having developed a passion for the environment in Mr. Cofer’s Global Environmental Issues and AP Environmental Science classes. In addition to Mr. Cofer, Jack attributes his interest in science to all of his science teachers at Cape Henry and his interest in learning in general to Mr. Kerbin and Mrs. Self.
Jack’s advice to the rising senior class is “waitlisted doesn’t mean rejected.” If you’re waitlisted by your top choice school and you’re really passionate about that school, keep pushing. Work with the College Counseling office to strengthen your application package. On a personal note, I would have to say that I agree with Jack’s advice. While I’ve seen many students who have been waitlisted at one institution go on to attend a different institution and have a wonderful experience there, I also have seen several students who were waitlisted by their top choice school, worked to strengthen their application, and were eventually selected from the waitlist. Jack is just the latest example. Congratulations, Jack - your perseverance made all the difference!