Join hosts Dallas, Jezel, Aryn and Valentina as they reflect on their college application journey as FGLI students. They cover choosing colleges, acceptance reactions, getting that financial aid package, and writing essays.

Dallas Thurman: Hey, everyone, this is Dallas Thurman.

Valentina Parra :This is Valentina Parra.

Jezel Martinez: This is Jezel Martinez.

Aryn Honaker: And this is Aryn Honaker.

Dallas Thurman: And welcome back to DiscountEDU, a podcast where we talk about our experiences as FGLI, or first-generation low-income students at Northwestern.

Jezel Martinez: In today's episode, we will be talking about applying to universities like Northwestern and how we felt going through the application process.

Aryn Honaker: Let's get into it.

Valentina Parra: Yeah.

Dallas Thurman: So guys, did you guys apply ED or RD to Northwestern?

Valentina Parra: Well, yes! I entered I applied to- I applied the way God intended, right. Regular decision. I actually applied through QuestBridge and I was too scared to do the match. But I only ranked one college. I will not be disclosing which college. Let's just say I got deferred to early decision, and then I got deferred to regular decision, and then I got deferred to rejected. So do with that what you will.

Jezel Martinez: Their loss.

Valentina Parra: Yeah, well, actually.

Dallas Thurman: All right.

Valentina Parra: I'm glad. I'm glad I didn't go there. It's not their loss. We just weren't meant to be, you know, sometimes life and then after and then yes.

Jezel Martinez: Indeed.

Aryn Honaker: Okay. Just like Valentina, I also used Questbridge, except I did do the match. And the match is binding. So essentially, you rank up to 15 colleges. And then you can match with whichever one you end up ranking highest. And it's binding so you have to go there. So I kind of did ED but not in the traditional way.

Dallas Thurman: I know I applied RD because I was too scared of the commitment aspect of ED. I just didn't want to get tied to a school. And also I was really dreading doing supplementals, so RD gave me more time to figure my stuff out.

Jezel Martinez: I applied regular decision. Partly because I was scared of being binded. But also because, during early decision, I wasn't even considering applying to Northwestern. So yeah.

Dallas Thurman: Yeah, I used Common App, not Questbridge. I thought about Questbridge for the financial aspect of it but as I said, I was too scared to commit to the school. So I just did Common App. And honestly, as the time went on, I was I wanted to know more about where I was going, like I was getting impatient. So I thought about doing where NYU has like ED Two or like Ed Round. I don't know how to say it, like ED 2. So I was like, Oh, let me let me do that. But my mom talked me out of it. Because I was really interested in NYU, or USC, and then Northwestern. But haha I didn't end up getting into USC or NYU so.

Valentina Parra: Their loss, they fumbled. They don't know you like I do.

Dallas Thurman: I mean Northwestern is better for journalism.

Valentina Parra: It is! It's also better in general.

Dallas Thurman: Yeah.

Valentina Parra: Go cats! But how was your reaction when you were accepted?

Dallas Thurman: I didn't really react to be honest. If you know me, I'm not really one for really any type of reaction. I'm pretty monotone and I was also in Ireland at the time that decisions came out. Because I was on a trip with my school has this program where you can sign up to go across the country, not country, like out of the country for spring break. And I signed up for Ireland. So that's where I was. And we were at group dinner. And I was like, ‘Oh, my portal has an update’ so I logged in. And I don't really know what I was thinking before I opened it. I think that was like the day after I got rejected from USC. So I was like, ‘I don't know what to think.’ But I opened it and then I saw the confetti. And I was like. Oh guys I got in-

Valentina Parra: Yipee!

Dallas Thurman: And everyone was like, Oh my God, and I was just sitting there. We were at dinner so I didn't really have any feelings towards it. Except like, Oh, this is probably where I'm gonna end up anyway. So now I know where I'm going. And I called my mom. I don't know what the time difference was, but she was awake. And I called her well actually, I texted her the screenshot I didn't even call her and she called me and she was crying and she was like-

Valentina Parra: Aw.

Dallas Thurman: Yeah, but I wish I would have gotten it on video if we were together because I knew she would have fell out.

Jezel Martinez: I love D-mother.

Valentina Parra: I would have loved to watch like a compilation, you know how those videos come out of people reacting to them?

Dallas Thurman: I was trying to make YouTube video and then I gave up halfway-

Valentina Parra: It would have been so funny just like, ‘Oh, I got in.’

Dallas Thurman: I have the video actually.

Valentina Parra: Of Northwestern?

Dallas Thurman: Yeah.

Valentina Parra: I recorded all of my decisions, all of my decisions except for Northwestern. And I love telling this story because it's so like, it makes me feel proud of myself. Because I did it. I really did not believe I was gonna get in. I was so I didn't record it because I was just like, ‘Oh, like, why?’, you know, that's how much I didn't think I would get in. And now I'm here. And it's just like, I'm hugging myself. You can't see but I'm hugging myself. It's just so cute and exciting that I have the opportunity to be in a vocal booth today with such amazing and wonderful bright beings. So very grateful for the opportunity to be a cat. Meow!

Aryn Honaker: For me, I was super excited because the thing about Questbridge is that like, it's a full ride scholarship. So if you match then like, no money has to be spent going to college. So that took a lot of financial burden off of me and my family. So I was super excited. I did film myself because you know, I film everything I do like I'm a big like, a vlogger I guess.

Valentina Parra: You dabble in journalism.

Aryn Honaker: I dabble in it a little bit.

Dallas Thurman: So where's the YouTube channel then?

Aryn Honaker: I actually did have a YouTube channel. We're not gonna get into it though.

Valentina Parra: Looking her up as we speak.

Aryn Honaker: It's not my name.

Valentina Parra: Unless...

Aryn Honaker: I filmed my reaction. I was freaking out. And then I filmed my mom's reaction and she was also freaking out.

Valentina Parra: Aw. I wish, can we see those videos?

Aryn Honaker: Maybe one day I don't know. Probably not. We'll see.

Jezel Martinez: A podcast special of Aryn's videos.

Aryn Honaker: But then I filmed my mom and she was freaking out. And then like, I didn't film my other family members' reactions but they were all proud of me. But they weren't around at the time. My mom was the only one at home. So that's why I filmed her reaction specifically, but yeah, it was exciting for me.

Jezel Martinez: So when I got my Northwestern decision, it was a pretty bad day for me. I had a lot of pain, I was dying in my room like quite literally, on my-

Valentina Parra: Quite literally?

Jezel Martinez: No, yeah, it was a bad day. Whatever, I was really sick. So I was actually home alone also at the time that I opened my decision. I opened it on my phone, like laying down sideways on my phone.

Valentina Parra: Me too.

Jezel Martinez: And I was like, ‘Oh my god,’ like I was in so much pain. But I was super excited. I lowkey forgot I was sick for a second. It was really like, I was very excited. And I wanted to call my parents but I waited for them to get home and they were also really excited.

Valentina Parra: You straight up cured the pain. You came back from the dead.

Jezel Martinez: Yeah.

Dallas Thurman: I think it's two different reactions like getting into the school and then seeing your financial aid package. Because I remember when I opened mine up, I didn't even see that the financial aid was at the bottom, like I was, ‘Oh, when are they gonna send me like what I got?’ And then I checked the letter like two days later. And then I saw I was like, oh, and I sent it to my mom. And she was like, Oh my God because I got a full ride. She was like, oh, yeah, it was really my mom's like, well, I won't say it was her dream. But she definitely is the more emotional person in my reaction.

Jezel Martinez: She carries.

Valentina Parra: Yeah, I was in the back of the car. And my entire car. I went to school– as I have said and will continue to say every day for the rest of my life because I can't seem to shut up about this– but I was coming back crossing the border from San Diego to Tijuana and my entire carpool was asleep. The car was silent. And I just got it and I had adopted an attitude when applying to universities that no acceptance or no rejection would define me. I wouldn't think I was better than anyone because I got into any college or think I was less deserving of something because I didn't get in. I just put my best foot forward and hoped for the best. And I was just like, okay, whatever. Let's do this. And then I opened it expecting nothing, genuinely nothing. Hoping for a waitlist, you know? And I'm just reading congratulated congrats. Congratulations. You can't see right now but I'm making a face that captures my-

Aryn Honaker: Shock.

Valentina Parra: Bewilderment. I was gonna say bewilderment. Shock doesn't get it.

Aryn Honaker: Oh my bad, I'm sorry, I apologize.

Valentina Parra: I'm kind of like, I just say, bro and the girls in front of me they're like what? I just got into Northwestern. And they're like, for real, I'm like yeah, and we all went to sleep after that. My parents don't know what Northwestern is, they didn't know at least. And it wasn't until we visited that they really caught on to how great this was. But yeah, I don't know. I don't think anyone back home really cared at first, then they did. But they were just like, oh, Northwestern in Boston? And yeah, Northeastern.

Dallas Thurman: Um how did you guys feel about your financial aid? I mean, I already said, I felt pretty good about it.

Valentina Parra: Aryn Honaker felt really good about it.

Aryn Honaker: Yeah I also felt very good about it.

Jezel Martinez: My financial aid isn't it's not the best I guess. But it's definitely better than anything I got from anywhere else. So I was pretty happy about that. My parents were pretty happy about that. Especially when you compare like the other option, which was UT Austin.

Valentina Parra: They scammed me, that's all I'm gonna say. I got a certain amount of, well, that's all I'm gonna say. But it was at a certain amount of money. And then I went to this school, committed, put my deposit, went in, and it's another amount of money. Or they were charging me for more stuff that I wasn't aware that I was going to be charged. So I was pretty, I am pretty angry. Because I could have been somewhere else with a big fat refund. And anyways, so much love for everyone working in financial aid. I know there's only so much you can do, love you. Maybe. Love you.

Dallas Thurman: How'd you guys feel, well I know you guys did Questbridge but well, I don't know how it works. But how did you pick your essay topic? Because I know Common App has that big essay that you have to do. I'm guessing Questbridge has something similar?

Aryn Honaker: I can explain it. So like essentially, the way the National College match thing works, at least is supposed to have to fill out Questbridge's specific application so it's not to a specific college, it's just Questbridge as a whole. And they have like three short answer questions and then like a longer one. And you don't get much of a choice, there's not much options, you kind of just see just the three and then the one. So you have to do those, there's no choice there. And then if they accept you from that application, you become a finalist. And then you can rank up to 15 colleges. And then you have to do each college's that you rank like individual application. So I had to do like the why Northwestern for Northwestern, UChicago has like one specific to them and then all the other-

Jezel Martinez: Boo.

Aryn Honaker: Colleges that I ranked.

Dallas Thurman: Yeah, I think that's pretty similar to Common App.

Valentina Parra: Except, like for Questbridge you have to write a lot of more… like multiple personal statements to differing in length. But the I guess our privilege was that for some schools, they didn't ask for supplements. So that was beautiful.

Dallas Thurman: Well, how many schools did guys apply to? I applied to 15, that was my cutoff.

Valentina Parra: 28.

Dallas Thurman: Wait, actually?

Valentina Parra: Yeah, I'm so serious. Did you think I was lying before?

Dallas Thurman: I thought it was real but then I thought it was a joke.

Valentina Parra: No, no, I fully applied to 28 schools, I was really trying to get that money.

Jezel Martinez: She's committed.

Valentina Parra: So you understand when I chose Northwestern over all the other schools I applied to and got into that the financial aid was not what I was told it was gonna be.

Aryn Honaker: I ranked five colleges for Questbridge. But then like outside of Questbridge, I think I applied to like three in-state colleges.

Jezel Martinez: I applied to eight.

Valentina Parra: You ate that yeah. Aw why did I– that was bad.

Dallas Thurman: Yeah, my essay was about like a component of it was being Black.

Jezel Martinez: Real.

Dallas Thurman: Well that sounds weird to say out loud but it was about like, Black, there's this thing that happened at my school, you know, boarding school. When the whole Black Lives Matter movement was getting a lot of traction. There was like, ‘Oh, can you kneel at football games or whatever.’ And the head of schools or like a, basically a principal of our school was like, oh, like you can't like they kind of switched up. Because during the COVID years since no one came to the games because of COVID. They're like, Oh, you can do whatever. And then the next year, they said, Oh, you can't since now people are gonna see that you're actually kneeling. So that was like a big issue. So I wrote a story about it for the newspaper. And then I kind of talked about how, how I found my voice through writing a story for the newspaper and showcasing my ties to Black culture. I don't know, I just talked about how journalism has helped me grow. I was catering to what I wanted to major in basically. You have to know how to play people. Yeah.

Valentina Parra: Well yes!

Dallas Thurman: I mean, it was all true. But I could've wrote about something else. You just have to know what to write about.

Valentina Parra: Yeah, I think I think that's a beautiful essay topic, the way you had described it to me before you didn't do it. Now you did it justice, that's beautiful. Well, mine was just, it was a good essay, it was really good. But it's not an essay that I can share with a lot of people without taking stuff out. It was just all about me, it wasn't a story. It was just kind of, this is who I am. Boom, boom, boom, boom and then conclusion.

Aryn Honaker: There was a lot of writings you had to do for Questbridge. Like I talked about what classes I would take, if I got into any of the classes. I talked about, how COVID was, for me, that was like a big topic in my essays. I talked about my love for writing, obviously, because if I didn't major in journalism, I would have majored in creative writing. So that was like a big thing for me. So kind of like what Dallas said is, like catering to whatever you want to major in. And I talked about navigating life as you know, a marginalized person, which is, you know, always a fun topic.

Valentina Parra: You're oppressed? Just don't.

Aryn Honaker: Just don't be oppressed actually.

Valentina Parra: Just grow up, wrong podcast.

Jezel Martinez: Just be marginalized.

Valentina Parra: Literally not that hard.

Jezel Martinez: Yeah, my essay also, I feel like it got really personal, which isn't something I intended in my first drafts and I did also cater to my major. I don't really want to talk about what it was about but um, my strategy was definitely like, you know, being authentic and being true to who I am and what I bring to the university, I guess. And I did work with an advisor. Shout out to JC.

Valentina Parra: JC, I miss you queen.

Jezel Martinez: Yeah, I love JC he's, he's my whole heart.

Valentina Parra: Oh king, sorry. Yeah, I, I think so too, I think as FGLI well, maybe not all the FGLI students actually because I met some entitled FGLIs, but I'd say we're pretty. We're pretty down to Earth or we're pretty humble. So we are authentic. Or we actually, maybe we just didn't know how to play the system. But I like to think I also went with that strategy. I was trying to be as authentic as possible. And like I said before, putting my best foot forward. Like, if you don't take me, that's fine. If you take me that's fine, too. I'm still what I wrote in my personal statement.

Dallas Thurman: You have to leave the application knowing that you like put your best foot forward. And you tried to show them who you were. Because some people I guess some admissions people don't even really read. Well I don't actually know but you're just you're just trying to get them to know you through like a 650 word little blurb.

Valentina Parra: Actually for us it was 800.

Dallas Thurman: Oh for Common App it was only 600. But that was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do in my life is apply to college. It's so stressful.

Aryn Honaker: Yeah.

Dallas Thurman: And like, well, I guess Questbridge sounds way harder, but even like supplementals. I was struggling.

Valentina Parra: I wish I had known that supplementals never end anytime you apply to anything in life, which I mean, maybe that's just stupid on my part, and  I should have known this. But every time I'm like if you want to apply to clubs, that's the thing that happens. Not as much here. I mean, I think it's more for the pre professional ones. But why are you at Northwestern? I already told you. I already said!

Dallas Thurman: Oh tip, make sure to save every single essay you ever write. Because I don't even write anymore, I usually copy paste.

Valentina Parra: You shouldn't be saying this. We have fans.

Dallas Thurman: I'm helping the fans.

Valentina Parra: No, who are in the offices.

Dallas Thurman: Oh I don't care , they should know that people aren't being super super genuine.

Valentina Parra: I am. I'm so honest.

Dallas Thurman: I was genuine at a point.

Valentina Parra: I am so honest.

Dallas Thurman: I'm just reciprocating the generosity multiple times.

Valentina Parra: You're just so honest, that it's just true all the time. Your truth doesn't change.

Dallas Thurman: I feel like that's a good tip to give because you don't want to keep rewriting stuff over and over again and then chance it where the second time you write it, you miss something important from when you first said it. And honestly, my reason for being here hasn't changed so.

Valentina Parra: Mine has.

Dallas Thurman: Oh?

Aryn Honaker: Let's get into it.

Valentina Parra: Mine used to be academics, now I'm here for you.

Jezel Martinez: Oh.

Valentina Parra: I kind of said in a way that wasn't like friendly I said it rizzfully.

Aryn Honaker: You should say it again.

Valentina Parra: Yeah. Now I'm here for you. Aw. I'm excited to announce my transfer to communications, interschool transfer. I will be majoring in theater. Yes. I love lying.

Aryn Honaker: Huh?

Valentina Parra: You can cut that.

Jezel Martinez: This concludes the third episode of DiscountEDU. Next time we will be giving advice to prospective students as they consider whether or not NU is the right place for them.

Dallas Thurman: I'm Dallas.

Valentina Parra: I'm Valentina.

Aryn Honaker: I'm Aryn.

Jezel Martinez: I'm Jezel.

Dallas Thurman: Thanks for listening.

Valentina Parra: Catch you next time. Bye.