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Applying to College – Part Five: Results


This is part five of my “Applying to College” series! I hope that these help some of you in your college search and process. If you missed part one of this series, check it out here: my experience applying to college, finding the right school, pre-application prep, and applying.

Note: I’m not an expert in any way, shape or form. My advice may not get you into your dream college – it’s just what worked for me!

the waiting game

The pain of applying to college is definitely the time between applying to hearing back. Waiting for results was 100% the worst part of the entire process, but even then, it wasn’t that bad. My biggest tip for getting through those months is to keep busy. Try not to think about it (as hard as that is) and instead make plans to fill up your time and brain space. I recommend applying to scholarships, which is equally as time-consuming as applying to college. Surprisingly enough, the time passes pretty quickly.

#1 most important thing to do when waiting for responses: stay on top of your email and portals. Most schools use a portal to keep track of your documents and will communicate with you via the portal, so make sure to check it regularly. Check to make sure they’ve received all of your documents and that they don’t have any weird school-specific documents (ESPECIALLY in the financial aid department).

financial aid

Financial aid is the reason I’m able to go to the school I am. Make sure that your parents get their taxes done ASAP (I’m serious. Like. As soon as humanly possible.) because many schools will not give you your need-based financial aid package until they receive your parents’ taxes. As mentioned above, some schools have unique requests in the financial aid department, so keep a look out for that on your portals and in your email.

Another big thing about financial aid: once you receive your package, know that you can always contest it if you think you deserve more, especially if you get more from a similar school. Don’t be afraid to ask for more need-based financial aid!

gettin’ those results

The classic getting-your-acceptance-letter-in-the-mail-thing? Not 100% true. I had two schools who sent me my letters ONLY via mail, the rest posted responses on our portals or emailed us and then mailed acceptance packages. If you get back positive results, CELEBRATE! Get some ice cream, call all of your biggest fans and party party party. If you didn’t get in, take my mom’s advice: every place is what you make of it – even if it’s not originally your #1, you can make it your #1.

If you got deferred, you’re in the same boat I was in for two of my schools. What to do: write a letter of intent. This letter essentially says, “yes, I’m still interested going to [insert school name here] because of [reason 1], [reason 2], and [reason 3].” Obviously, it’s a bit longer than that. My letters were both about a page and focused on reasons I loved the schools and new things that had happened in my life since I applied. Did you ace your finals? Let them know! Did you start a new job, join a new club, do some incredibly meaningful service? Let ’em know! Considering switching your major? Let ’em know! I also got an additional letter of recommendation from someone outside of school (mine was from someone in publishing who knows me really well, which appealed to my career goal focus of my application) and this is something I highly recommend doing.

Note on deferrals: don’t write your letter until at least two weeks after you’ve gotten your response. Simmer down from the initial anger, and don’t tell the school how hurt you are by their deferral. Be kind and polite!

what’s next?

It’s time to make a choice, as shocking as that may sound. Take a bit of time, consider your options, and refer to next week’s post about making a decision.

Next up in this series:

  • Making a decision

If you have any questions about my process or anything along the way, feel free to comment down below, send me an email (, or a tweet (@WillasRamblings) and I’ll be happy to reply.

Applying to College – Part Four: Applying


This is part four of my “Applying to College” series! I hope that these help some of you in your college search and process. If you missed part one or two of this series, check them out here: my experience applying to collegefinding the right school, and pre-application prep.

Note: I’m not an expert in any way, shape or form. My advice may not get you into your dream college – it’s just what worked for me!

half the journey is clicking submit

One of the things that I think everyone who applies for any nerve-wracking thing struggles with is hitting submit. The button that sends something off into space and you won’t be able to change anything anymore. That permanence is frightening for a lot of people, I think.

Once I’d put all of my pieces together, put finishing touches on my essays and triple checking my application for spelling errors, I had to hit submit. I was so nervous. I kept on wondering if there was anything else I could change or perfect in any way. At a certain point, I just had to do it. I was ready, everything was together, and it was time.

The final push for me was my college counselor telling me that it was time. He told me it was time to do it, and my friends cheered me on as I hit submit for the first time, and I saw those beautiful check-marks appear on my portal in the Common App. That feeling of comfort and relief is like nothing else I’ve ever experienced.

So, come time to submit, don’t be afraid of that button. If you’re ready and it’s time, take the plunge. Hit the button and celebrate with people who support you – you’re worth it!

submitting everything else

The other things you have to submit aren’t nearly as nerve-wracking as the application itself, in my opinion.

Test scores are the most important thing outside of the application itself that you’ll most likely need to submit. Make sure you’ve put aside a bit of money, because sending test scores can get expensive REALLY fast. Make sure you’ve got the right schools down and send those puppies off. One thing to know is that you can send test scores to a school before you’ve submitted your application, so you don’t have to wait to submit them. If anything, DO submit them early because most schools take a while to process all of the pieces of your application.

One of the things I didn’t expect to have to submit was a resume. A couple of my schools had the option of submitting one in addition to your activities list, and I’d recommend submitting one if given the option. It’s an opportunity to give the colleges EVERYTHING you’ve done, and also give them a better idea of what your skills are outside of the classroom. Say you have experience working with Photoshop or Final Cut Pro – those are things you can put on the resume that will demonstrate a proficiency in real-world skills that colleges may like seeing! This will also be an opportunity to put down any summer college camps you’ve gone to, awards you’ve gotten, etc. I, personally, LOVE making resumes, so let me know if you ever need advice on creating one – I’d be happy to help.

recommendation letters

Once you’ve submitted your application, write whoever wrote you recommendation letters a thank you note. It’s a kind gesture that goes a long way, and it’s also a way to let them know you’ve submitted, and possibly, a subtle reminder to submit your letters.

That’s it for today’s post! I’ll be back next week with part five in the series, all about results and the waiting game.




On Friday night, my high school friends and I had our last whole group sleepover before we all head off to college.

In the wake of that event, I’ve been thinking a lot about change, friendship, and growing up.

The group of friends I finished high school with were not the ones I started middle school with. My school was sixth through twelfth grade, so hypothetically, I could’ve had the same friends all the way through. But, I when I entered sixth grade, I wanted new friends – I wanted to separate myself from the friends I’d had in elementary school, three of which came to my new school with me. In my desire to separate myself, I unknowingly was setting myself up to struggle a lot with friendship. I spent three years jumping from friend group to friend group, struggling to find people who got me. When I hit high school, I started hanging out with the set of friends I have now – three of them were those same people I wanted to desperately to separate myself from in middle school in an attempt to be someone else.

My new group of friends was huge. It consisted of me and ten other girls, all of whom had been friends since sixth grade. Coming in in ninth grade, I felt like an outsider, and all I wanted was to feel accepted. And they accepted me with open arms and smiles, but there was this feeling of outsider-ness that stayed with me through my junior year. I struggled to feel like they valued me in their group, mainly because sometimes people did things without me.

In the summer after my junior year, I started a new job with new people and suddenly, I was making plans to hang out with them and was constantly busy. It taught me that sometimes I had to be the one to initiate plans to hang out with people, something I’d always been horrible at doing. When I went back to school, I returned with a new motto: that I would make plans with my friends.

And I did. Suddenly, our friendship clicked. In the midst of senior year and all of the change, I was happier than ever before. I felt like my friends knew me, that I relied on them in a way I never had before. I had these moments of beautiful friendship with them at eleven o’clock at night at someone’s house, cackling in laughter or at dinner, talking honestly about our fears for the future. I felt valued, loved, and accepted. I realized that the problem all along wasn’t them – they were more than happy to go out and do things with me, they just didn’t think to extend the invitation before I started asking them. The problem was that I was to afraid to ask, to afraid of rejection, to afraid that someone would say no.

At the end of the school year, I felt this mixture of happiness and sadness that I’ve mentioned before on this blog. I felt happiness for the places I was going, but torn apart by the idea of leaving the people I love so dearly behind. This summer, I decided I wouldn’t leave them behind. Instead, I made plans, I had lunch with my friends, went rock climbing, saw movies, had sleepovers, drove around the city we’ve all grown up in singing along to old Justin Timberlake songs. And now, at the end of the summer and the end of a time, that feeling of sadness has returned, but it’s a bit different.

I’m not sad to be leaving them behind, because I won’t be. I’ll still text them and hear what’s going on in their life, get letters in the mail every month, see pictures of their lives. No, I’ll be sad that I can’t experience all of the incredible things in their lives right next to them. That I can’t see, firsthand, all of the beautiful things they’re going to do. Instead, I’ll have to hear about them on the phone, or see pictures after the fact. I won’t be able to get lunch with them every day, stay up late studying for finals with them, or have 14-person sleepovers on the weekends.

And that part is going to suck. It’s going to suck so, so much. But at the same time, it’s a part of growing up. In order to move into the next phase of our lives, sometimes things have to change, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave people behind. You can still have them with you, just in different ways. You have to make an effort to stay in touch, and realize that distance doesn’t mean you can’t have a strong friendship – it’ll just be a different friendship.

Today, two of my friends moved into their dorm rooms. I got to see pictures of their set-ups and of orientation, and this feeling of pride suddenly washed over me. Pride in how far they’ve come, how many successes they’ve had, how they’ve picked themselves up from the hard moments and found the light in the darkness. How they make me laugh and smile and see the beautiful parts of life, and how, most of all, I can’t wait to hear about all the people they’ve spread their light to in this new chapter of our lives.

Life Update – July, A Novel Chat, and writing


July has been a bit of a crazy month – I’ve been busy doing a variety of things that have all made my reading time go down the drain and my desire to blog dissipate. But! Never fear, Willa’s Ramblings is continuing on. Here’s what I’ve been getting up to:


As some of you may know, if you keep up with me on Twitter, I completely my first draft of my manuscript this month! I have Camp NanoWriMo to thank for that one – it kicked me into shape, and I got so obsessed with the story that I marathoned the last 20,000, putting in 5k days four times in one week to finish. I’ve been working on this story for eight months, and somehow I’m still in love with it, so I’m heading down the revision hole for the first time. I’m crazy nervous about the whole process, but if I can get my way through one almost complete first draft, rework the entire plot, and then write another first draft, all of the same book, I think I can do it. Currently, my draft is being read by two of my closest advisors, and then I’m launching into as many revisions as I can before I head off to school at the end of August.

a novel chat

I hope all of you have been tuning in every week to my podcast, “A Novel Chat!” I co-host the podcast with my besties Aneeqah and Emily, and it’s been a blast. We pick a book to feature each month (July’s was The Passion of Dolssa) and then spend the month discussing topics tied to the book and giving recommendations. We give almost ten recommendations an episode, so if you’re looking for some good books to read, I’d highly recommend checking us out. Emily tends to give more contemporary recs, Aneeqah prefers fantasy (exclusively), and I’m somewhere in the middle, so we give a nice diverse spectrum. You can find A Novel Chat on iTunes, Stitcher, and SimpleCast, as well as on our website, Shoot us a Tweet if you’re enjoying listening – we’d love to talk to you!

getting ready for college

As you may have seen in past posts, I’m off to college in the fall! I’m heading to Barnard College in NYC, and I’ve been spending most of this month making lists and putting various items on wishlists on Amazon, Society6, Redbubble, and Target. I’ve also been spending the month alternating between jumping around excitedly and curling up in a ball and wondering why I decided to leave Austin in the first place.

Moving to college is hard, y’all.

reading (as per usual)

The few books I read this month have been spectacular, and I highly, highly recommend you check them out. I did some reviews, which you can check out here: mini-reviews & GIRL IN PIECES.

frolicking about

I’ve been focusing on spending more time with my friends this month, and have been getting lunch at new places around town (I’m currently in love with True Food Kitchen) and having really incredible conversations. I also went bouldering, stocked up on clothes for college at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, and drove an hour round trip for a pair of boots. Somehow I’ve avoided buying books, but I don’t know how long that’s going to last, especially considering I’m moving to NYC aka the home of THE STRAND in a month.

crying because i’m going to crooked kingdom’s launch

sorry i need a few minutes to collect myself guys



okay i’m calm now

MORE KAZ!!!!!!! I LOVE KAZ!!!!!!!


What have you guys been up to this month? Let me know in comments – I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading.

Applying to College – Part Three: Pre-application prep


This is part two of my “Applying to College” series! I hope that these help some of you in your college search and process. If you missed part one or two of this series, check them out here: my experience applying to college and finding the right school.

Note: I’m not an expert in any way, shape or form. My advice may not get you into your dream college – it’s just what worked for me!

test scores

There are two main college entrance tests in the US: the SAT and the ACT. To apply to most colleges, you have to take one or the other, or some combination. I took both, but only ended up using my ACT scores, because they were better than my SAT.

My recommendation: look at the schools you’re applying to. Some schools require SAT Subject Tests along with an SAT score, while some require only an SAT and an ACT. Some require an ACT with Writing. Some will let you sub the SAT Subject Tests for ACT with Writing. It’s all confusing and different, but look and see what you’ll need to apply. And then prepare for those.

If possible, get all of your standardized tests out of the way in your junior year. Senior year is beyond busy with college applications, school, and life in general, and the last thing you want to do is study for the SAT/ACT. So, get those study books and go after it.

On re-takes: From what I’ve learned, taking the tests more than two times isn’t worth it. Statistically, on the third try you’ll in fact do worse than on your first and second tries. My scores, for example, went down between my first and second try.

On tutors: I had an SAT tutor through my school, and they taught me so many things about how to take the tests. If your family can afford it, I’d definitely recommend getting a tutor to help you through the process. Otherwise, get some study books and force yourself to study on your own. You got this!

AP tests

Another common thing people think about pre-college is Advanced Placement testing. I took eight AP classes in high school (ouch), and I don’t regret taking them.

Personally, I get no “credit” at Barnard for any of my APs. I can place out of an entry-level class in government, but that’s it – I don’t get credit for that class. (Every college is different on what credits they’ll take, so it’s definitely something to look into.) So, even though I don’t get a lot of credits for my APs, I’m still happy I took the classes. Why? Because they challenged me. I had to work harder, study more, become a better writer and a better student.

If you can take APs, I would highly recommend you do. They’re worth it, even if you don’t take the AP tests (which are optional!) I didn’t report my AP scores to any of my colleges, and instead told them I’d taken the classes and the grades I got. So don’t stress yourself out on the AP Tests and beat yourself up if you don’t get all 5s. Colleges will still take you.


A big element of college applications is your recommendation letters. This is another element that is different at each school, so look into what your schools require ahead of time. Some require two core teachers, some don’t care, some want one math, one science, one humanities. When selecting your teachers, I strongly suggest picking teachers who know you in some way, if possible. I chose teachers who had led clubs I was involved in and knew me in and out of the classroom. If that’s not an option for you, pick teachers who you feel can talk about all the amazing qualities you have–not just the teachers in the hardest subjects that will “look the best.”

Give your teachers about two months do your letters – I asked my teachers in the beginning of September to write me letters for a November 1st deadline. Send them a resume so they know a bit more about you, and then send them a thank you note for writing you a recommendation. These things take time and imagine how many letters your teachers have to write. A lot.

 save some money

This sounds weird, but if you can, save some money for applications. It gets expensive fast and having some cash to pay for application fees, sending your SAT/ACT scores to colleges, etc. is a really great cushion to have.