So I applied to 11 colleges in all...
1. MIT- I got deferred and then rejected from MIT, but that's probably a good thing. It just sounds so intense. Plus I'd probably die in the winter.
2. Caltech- Again, I got deferred and then rejected. Again, probably a good thing, considering how supposedly intense it is. Caltech is also really small- less than 1000 undergraduates.
3. Pomona- I got waitlisted at Pomona. I was a little upset, but I got in to 8 of the 11 schools I applied to- which, if you ask me, isn't too bad.
4. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology- The first college I got in to was Rose-Hulman. I cannot even explain how excited I was that I actually got in to a college- it made the rest of the process that much easier! Rose-Hulman seems like a pretty cool place, but I decided against it because the focus is just so narrow (although they did offer me an awesome scholarship!). It's also in Indiana, and not really in a city.
5. Rutgers University- Rutgers was the second college I got in to. I pretty much only applied because my parents suggested I apply (there's also no essay). Rutgers would be inexpensive because it's instate, but I decided against it because it's instate. New Jersey isn't that big, and I want to go far away.
6. University of Southern California- USC is an awesome school. What I thought was cool about USC was that although it's a pretty big university, my major (at USC- astronautical engineering) would have less than 70 people in it. USC has something like 150 majors and almost as many minors. You can major (or minor) in practically anything. It's also in Los Angeles. And the "Trojan Family" was definitely a big draw. But I ended up deciding against USC because it didn't seem like a place where I would fit in... too much emphasis on football, and partying.
7. Wash U in St. Louis- I was totally excited to get in to Wash U- I wasn't really expecting to get in. I visited, and the people seemed really friendly and welcoming. However, it would be expensive, and while it's an awesome place, I ended up not deciding to go there because something didn't feel right. Plus, I had no financial aid at Wash U, so it would be expensive.
8. Lehigh University- What I originally liked about Lehigh was the size, and the course offerings in engineering. They also have this thing called IPD (Integrated Product Development), where engineering, business, and arts/sciences students come to together to design products (I looked on the website, and there were some cool ones- like a new kind of lacrosse stick, and an aquarium filter that's completely silent). I also got a scholarship, which was cool, and (like two weeks before I officially got in) was contacted by and later had a phone conversation with a mechanical engineering professor from Lehigh (which was totally awesome, by the way). However, I decided against Lehigh because it's too close (about an hour away) and it felt really "preppy".
9. Carnegie Mellon University- Initially, CMU was my first choice. I almost applied ED2, but I didn't. I was, however, pretty excited to get in and visit. CMU offers a lot of cool classes, like Physics of Musical Sound and Engineering the Materials of the Future. I also love how into the Scottish heritage they are- their marching band wears kilts, the mascot is a Scotty dog, the official school color is tartan (plaid), and they offer a major (in the music school) in bagpipe. However, when I visited, I didn't really like the people I met, and it didn't seem like a place where I would really be happy. I also didn't like the location, and something about the layout of the campus felt weird. One of the deciding factors for me against CMU was that if I wanted to major in Biomedical Engineering, I could only do it as a double major with another engineering discipline, and I didn't really like that I guess. They also offered me no financial aid, meaning I'd be paying full price.
10. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute- I'll be honest, I didn't really like RPI when I visited. It's cold, first of all. It's also in the middle of nowhere (Troy, New York is hardly exciting- and not necessarily a very "nice" area). But they do have a lot of interesting course offerings, and they offered me a scholarship, which was pretty cool. I ended up not choosing RPI primarily because I hated the location, and it felt like I'd be really miserable there.
*I would like to add that the above 10 schools are all awesome schools. I respect all of them, and they are ALL fine institutions. For any seniors who might be looking at this who are considering any of these colleges, they are all awesome places (even though I didn't decide to go to any of them), so don't let the fact that I'm not going there change YOUR mind or affect YOUR decision. For anyone who's not yet a senior, don't let the fact that I didn't choose to attend a college change your mind about applying- apply away!
11. Case Western Reserve University- Initially, I didn't know much about Case Western, except that it was in Ohio (Cleveland, to be specific), and it was good for Biomedical Engineering. There was also no supplemental essay on the application, which was awesome. Once I got in (and found out that they were offering me a bigger scholarship than any other college I got in to), I started reading more about it, and it sounded like a pretty cool place. The admissions are "open-door" with regard to majors, which means that basically, now that I'm admitted to the university, I could decide to major in anything, and if it wasn't engineering- let's say I decide I want to major in Chemistry- there's no complicated "internal transfer" process. I visited this weekend, and really liked it. It's definitely a campus, but it's not isolated, which I liked. There's stuff to do within walking distance (museums and botanical gardens, for example), but there's public transportation that takes you to, for example, the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. I stayed in a sorority house- I wasn't sure about Greek life at first, but it seems like it'd be a really cool thing at Case. My host is a member of a women in engineering sorority (I'm pretty sure it is a social sorority, not a professional sorority), which is totally awesome. She says she wasn't sure about Greek life at first, but her RA freshman year encouraged her to rush- and she's glad she did. She says it's a really great way to meet people, and it seems like it definitely is. There's also a lot of cool organizations on campus- a capella groups, religious organizations, and a cheese club, for example. Everyone at Case is smart and works hard, but they know how to have fun, too (but it's definitely not a party school)- and (in the words of a current student at Case), "the people that are studying all the time, they want to be studying all the time." Case is also exactly the size I want in a college- not too big, not too small. All in all, Case Western Reserve University is definitely my favorite of the colleges I got in to (the fact that I have a scholarship there is just icing on the cake!)- I sent in my deposit yesterday.
The moral of the story is do well in school and study for the SAT, SAT2s, and ACT. Study. Really. It's not a bad thing. You will thank yourself. Studying and doing my homework (well, most of the time) is how I got in to all these colleges and got several signficiant merit-based scholarships.