Choosing a college can be tough

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By Madalina Ciuca

In recent years, the college application process has become more competitive. According to a Jan. 13 New York Times article, the 2011/2012 application year has seen a change in early action trends.
“Early admission to top colleges, once the almost exclusive preserve of the East Coast elite, is now being pursued by a much broader and more diverse group of students, including foreigners and minorities.”
This is frightening news for Los Alamos residents, who live in a town that has a high concentration of college-educated residents. As such, their children tend to set very high standards for themselves and do many things in order to achieve their college dreams.
Thus, one has to wonder … how will everyone step up their game? How is it possible to go from “absolutely brilliant” to whatever the next highest adjective in describing the perfect student might be?
“GPA, SAT scores, extracurriculars and such just ensure you make the first cut,” said Los Alamos High School senior Horace Zhang, who has been accepted to Princeton University.
Andy Zhao, who has been accepted to Stanford University, added, “I painted a genuine picture of myself and even if I didn’t get in it would have been because I wasn’t a good fit for the school.”
All in all, everybody seems to agree with future UPenn student Julia Fordham’s strategy. “I just tried to sell that interest through my essays and picked those who recognized my interest to write recommendations.”
  Of course, one cannot expect an entire town to crave the same college path for the future.
The other side of the spectrum includes the students that decide to go to a state university outside of New Mexico and, even more controversial, those that decide to stay in-state.
As deadlines are approaching and seniors are deciding which colleges to attend, the in-state versus out-of-state dilemma begins to surface.
To some, it may seem like those who choose to stay in-state  are downgrading themselves and “destroying their potential.”
But if one takes more than 60 seconds to think that decision through, it may seem like exactly what it is: a bunch of kids that are smart enough to take advantage of the free education in their own state; save all the money they would be spending on prerequisites for grad school; or a transfer later on in their college career.
Most importantly, those that choose to stay in-state know that opportunity is everywhere, as long as they are motivated enough to seize it.
Grace Liu, a LAHS graduate and current freshman at The University of New Mexico shares the reasoning behind choosing an in-state university.
“In Los Alamos we take budget-friendly in-state colleges for granted and fail to see that there are many wonderful programs so close to home.”