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Student Diary
Posted 12/06/2017 02:48PM

Sawsan Zahr, graduating senior at UCA, was recently delighted to hear that she had received generous full scholarships to leading US universities: Johns Hopkins, New York University and the University of Pennsylvania. In her offer letter from the latter, the university remarked that Sawsan’s high school record and application put her “among a remarkable group of highly talented students” selecting her from the top 50% of students admitted to Penn. Sawsan wrote in to Strides to share her experience about the application and selection process:

I can’t say the process isn’t daunting or stressful, because it certainly was for me. At times, I didn’t think I had done enough SAT preparation. I had taken no AP classes, had no job experience, and I was completely unfamiliar with the application process. But instead of dwelling on that, I was determined to try my best. After completing the online common application, writing essays, asking for recommendations, digging up awards and proof of extra-curricular activities and community service, applying for scholarships and aid, and being interviewed, I was finally done! Some parts of the process were also enjoyable. I loved the essays and interviews because they allowed me to give admissions officers a true and holistic picture of who I am. They transformed me from a set of numbers and scores to a human applicant with a story.

Four months later, my acceptances came with even more surprises. The University of Pennsylvania had also offered me admission to the challenging Vagelos MLS program, which includes unparalleled research opportunities, and my financial aid packages were incredible. 

Finally, I was surprised that the process of deciding which university to attend was the most difficult. New York University, The University of Pennsylvania, and Johns Hopkins…I had to set aside reputation and expectations to focus on which college would truly fit me. It wasn’t a decision to be taken lightly; I had to choose the place that I would be calling home for the most exciting years of my life. 

I applied to colleges that valued higher education as much as I did and saw past my grades and extra-curricular activities to my potential and drive. I wanted an interdisciplinary liberal arts education. I wanted to be able to explore possible majors and find out what I loved. I wanted to discover opportunities, I wanted to take risks, and most importantly, I wanted to equip myself with the tools to become the best, most passionate version of whatever it is I will be in the future. Ultimately, I saw myself accomplishing my goals at Penn, and I’m ecstatic to start my journey there in the fall!

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Each of the Esol Education schools is accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) and/or the Middle States Association (MSA) and offers one or more International Baccalaureate (IB) programs.

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