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collection of instagram posts from the class of 2021

Balancing AP calculus, science club, varsity soccer, and student council was tough—but all that hard work in high school paid off: I'm going to my top choice school, American University, in August. My dad's an Eagle, too, and proud of it. I've enjoyed reminding him, though, that it's much harder to get into AU now than it was in his day.

But it's easier to apply, with one common application that's accepted at more than 700 schools around the world, including AU. The deadline is January—unless you apply for early admission, as I did, and have to submit the application in November. For my required essay (you pick one of five topics), I chose to write about 'an event that marked my transition from childhood to adulthood': my spring break trip to Costa Rica, where I studied endangered sea turtles and practiced my Spanish. It was the first time I'd traveled outside the country by myself—and I was hooked. I definitely plan to study abroad while I'm at AU.

Even though American became test-optional seven years ago, I took advantage of the option to submit my SAT score, because it was on par with this year's admitted class average of 1,290. My GPA was slightly above the 3.6 average for freshmen starting here this fall (I was a bit of a geek in high school).

Still, there was no guarantee that I'd be accepted. This year AU received more than 18,700 applications and accepted just 29 percent. That's way down from the 46 percent admit rate of three years ago. I know my application got a fair shake: AU has 23 people working in admissions. Each application is read thoroughly, usually by more than one staff person. When I got my acceptance letter, I was amazed that the admissions team mentioned the recycling program I'd started at my school as something that had impressed them.

I was so ecstatic, I posted the big news on Instagram. As Dad says, once and Eagle, always an Eagle.