With decisions coming out — sometimes via hacks — seniors learn their college possibilities

April 1, 2022 — by Carolyn Wang
While some plan in-person visits over spring break, others have taken advantage of Class of 2026 groups to talk to alumni for guidance

As senior Angela Li mentally prepared to open her Emory University portal in early December during the Early Decisions I cycle, she couldn’t help but feel a wave of both excitement and apprehension.

“Whether I get in or not, I love you,” Li told her mom, while they held hands.

Reflecting back at her acceptance, she shrugged and laughed at the melodramatic scene. 

“It was like my final message in a movie or something,” she said.

After Early Decisions I and II results were released in December and January, many seniors took advantage of the following few months to better understand the college experience. Those who received their Regular Decisions throughout March and early April are seeking guidance from current or past college students about campus life for the colleges where they were admitted.

For Li, she finished a chocolate cinnamon ice cream combo in celebration and got down to business: reaching out to her past college friends.

“I mainly asked about what the rules are in college, what freshmen can do on campus and their thoughts on majors,” Li said. “I’ve also reached out to future classmates to get to know them a bit.”

In anticipation of taking a pre-med path, Li joined a Discord Server with Emory University Class of 2026 students, which had channels designated specifically for students attending the different university campuses. She also plans to visit the university during the summer. 

Unlike Li, who found out about her future college during the Early Decisions cycle, many students received their decisions during the Regular Decisions cycle during March and April; not all releases were smooth-sailing, however. 

Schools like UCLA and UC Berkeley, popular choices for SHS students, reached rates as low as 13.9% and 14.1% respectively in 2021, a trend that will likely be continued in the 2022 admissions cycle. 

Adding to the tension and difficulties of the process, multiple students were affected by a UC Berkeley hack in late March when a Reddit user found a link to the registration for admitted students’ events that would only allow those who were accepted to log in. 

Then on March 24, two days before the decision release date, another glitch enabled students to determine whether they were waitlisted or rejected, depending on whether they could withdraw their applications. Although the hacks were not not officially verified, anecdotal evidence from Falcon interviews indicate that the hacks proved accurate for a dozen seniors, who found out about their decisions unofficially days before getting a matching official result.

“It was obviously a bit of a bummer to find out about the decision through a goofy link since Berkeley is a top school and many people’s dream schools,” senior Justin Hao said. “It was sad for some people but it also desensitized people a little bit during the actual decisions.” 

Despite the hack and its results, the Regular Decision process was an exciting time for many, including seniors Henrik Zhang and  Ashlyn Pham, who received their UCLA decisions on March 22 during the Regular Decisions cycle. 

Prior to receiving his admissions letter, Zhang was stressed because he hadn’t gotten into any of his top schools; on the day decisions were released, Zhang spent the afternoon at his friends’ house “chilling” until the results came out.

“I was waitlisted for UC San Diego and somehow got into UCLA, so my friends and I just started running around the house because nobody really expected it,” Zhang said. 

He plans to visit the campus sometime in April, but he has already spoken to his UCLA friends over iMessage and FaceTime to ask about dorm life.

Meanwhile, Pham was on the way to getting her friend senior Catherine Kan flowers for her UCLA acceptance when Pham found out about her own. 

“The first thing I did was scream and tell my parents,” Pham said. “I could hear my dad saying he was excited that he wouldn’t have to pay out-of-state tuition, which I thought was very funny.” 

While Pham plans to visit the school during spring break, she has already consulted many current and former UCLA students — including her cousin — about the school’s environment, quarter system and daily life in Los Angeles. 

The most important factors in her decision to apply to UCLA include having extended family in southern California and picking a place where she knows she will thrive, according to Pham. With the wait finally over, she said she is looking forward to the new chapter in her life.

“I am just incredibly grateful for the opportunities that Saratoga High School gave me and all the extracurriculars that helped me get into UCLA,” Pham said. “I’m excited to see where everyone goes but sad to realize that the Class of 2022 will soon be leaving.”

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