Mikayla H.

Lake City High School
Lake City, SC

GPA: 4.63
Class Rank: 2/143
ACT: 25

President: Beta Club
President: LCHS Book Club
Drum Major: Marching Band
National Honor Society

Claflin University Honors College
Clemson University
Howard University
University of Maryland – Baltimore County
University of South Carolina – Columbia
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Xavier University of Louisiana 

Wait List:
Amherst College
Emory University
Trinity College

College Choice:
University of Maryland – Baltimore County
Major: Biochemistry/Molecular Biology
Aspirations: MD/Ph.D.

Davidson College
Smith College
Williams College

Major Scholarships:
Gates Millennium Scholar
Meyerhoff Scholar
Questbridge Finalist

Total Scholarship Offers:
$1.1 Million

What type of college did you want and why? 

Attending a college with a good science program was the most important part of the college experience for me. Secondarily, I wanted to attend a large university which is the complete opposite of my high school, but I thought it would be a good change for me. I wanted to attend a highly selective college, because they typically have more generous need-based financial aid policies.

What type of support did you receive during the college admissions process? 

Mr. and Mrs. Wynn guided me each step of the way through the college admissions and financial aid processes. They introduced me to the Questbridge Program, the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, and the Meyerhoff Scholars Program. They helped me research colleges and programs that best suited me as a person and guided me through the process of researching the grades and test scores I would need to be a competitive candidate for admission. Mrs. Wynn also helped me to prepare for my interviews with Yale, Cornell, Columbia, and the Meyerhoff Scholars Selection Weekend. The attorney from Yale Law School said that I was the best student he had ever interviewed, and I was one of only small group of students accepted into the prestigious and highly competitive Meyerhoff Scholars Program. They also helped me research scholarships and helped me through the process of completing the FAFSA. I also got help from my high school Guidance Counselors when submitting documents and help from teachers for proof reading and reviewing my work.

What was most stressful about applying to colleges? 

The most stressful part about applying to colleges was knowing that my test scores were just not up to par for some of the colleges that had the type of need-based financial aid policies. While my grade point average met the expectations of all of the colleges on my list, my 25 ACT Composite score was much lower than the median for such schools as Yale, Vassar, Swarthmore, and Williams, all of which rejected me—this after completing their lengthy applications and responding to all of their writing prompts.

What did you learn? 

I learned that although a college may be selective and highly ranked, there are other colleges with great programs that can be just as good or better than a highly selective college. I also learned how important it is to have a great overall ‘Self-Presentation!’ Mr. and Mrs. Wynn helped me to put all of the pieces together, essay, résumé, recommendation letters, interviewing skills, and communication with all of my colleges.

The Money Factor! 

Thanks to the help of Mr. and Mrs. Wynn, my guidance counselors and many teachers, I have been selected as a 2015 Gates Millennium Scholar —the first one from the Florence County School District Three and the town of Lake City, South Carolina. GMS funding will help pay for 5 years of undergraduate school, 2 years of graduate school, and 4 years of my doctoral program.

What do you wish you had done differently? 

I wish I would have known to prepare earlier to get higher test scores so I could have gotten into more of the highly selective colleges.

What is your advice? 

My advice is to begin researching colleges as you enter high school so you will know the grades and test scores expected by the colleges. Also, do as much community service as possible, become a leader throughout high school, and take as many of the college courses and AP courses offered at your school. Your grades and coursework will be extremely important in making you a competitive candidate for admission at highly selective colleges and may qualify you for thousands of dollars in scholarships. Finally, get help! The college admissions and financial aid processes are hugely complicated. Without the support and guidance of our College Planning Cohort, I would not have reached beyond Clemson and the University of South Carolina. I have already experienced more in the Meyerhoff Scholar Summer Bridge Program at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County than in my wildest dreams. By the time I actually begin my freshman year, I will have visited the National Institutes of Health, Johns Hopkins Medical Center, the U.S. Army Research Center, laid out my 4-year course schedule, and prepared my internship application for my summer internship between my freshman and sophomore year.  My Advice is, “Don’t try to do this by yourself!”