Q&A: Talk about indecisive! Senior Shriya Nadgauda applies to 21 colleges, setting class record

(Photo used by permission of Nadgauda)
Senior Shriya Nadgauda, left, jumps with some friends at UCLA while on a tour of colleges in southern California.

Senior Shriya Nadgauda applied to 21 colleges, nine of which were UC’s – the highest number in her class (although far less than the 28 applications Jillian DePoy, ’10, submitted eight years ago). Nadgauda plans to study Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). She has already been accepted to seven colleges, including Harvey Mudd, which she plans to attend.

Q: Why did you apply to so many colleges?

A: It wasn’t really an active choice. There were a lot of colleges on my initial list, and then I had a hard time taking them off. And as time went on, there were a lot of schools that were added to the list.

Q: Was it hard to find time to apply to all of them?

A: Writing essays takes a while, and a lot of schools have two or three supplements each. However, a lot of colleges ask pretty similar questions, so there were a lot of essays I reused.

Q: Wasn’t it expensive?

A: Most college apps are $50-$70, so the price adds up fast, especially when you take into consideration that you also have to send your (SAT) scores to all of the colleges ($12 per college). Since I sent my ACT and SAT Subject Tests it’s $24 per college. However, if you apply to any UC’s, you only need to send your scores to one of them.

Q: Were there some “backup colleges” on your list?

A: There were nearly no colleges on my list that I didn’t consider going to, especially if I was accepted. However, I did apply to a lot of safety colleges because many of my top choices were colleges with really low acceptance rates.

But most of the schools I applied to, even the safety colleges, were schools with a strong engineering program, which is what I am interested in. So even if I didn’t get into my top colleges, I still had some good options.

Q: Is there a specific field of engineering you are interested in?

A: I took a course in ECE over the summer at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. I really enjoyed it, so that is probably what I’ll major in.

Q: Was everyone supportive of your decision to apply to all to all of these colleges?

A: My family was really supportive. My friends mostly just made fun of me because of the amount of essays I had to write!

Q: How did your college counselor react?

A: (College counselor Chris Kuipers) was amused. He didn’t really understand why I was applying to so many safeties, but other than that he was really supportive. He helped a lot with all my essays by helping me narrow the focus of my essays and cut them down to fit the word limit.

Q: How many essays did you write?

A: I don’t know the exact number. I wrote a lot of essays that were really similar because some colleges ask the same or a very similar question. I probably wrote about 15 unique essays. The others were all versions of those (15 essays).

Q: Which schools have you been accepted to?

A: The University of the Pacific, the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Santa Clara University, the University of Southern California, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Cal Poly (San Luis Obispo) and Harvey Mudd. Some colleges still haven’t finished applications yet, so this list isn’t complete.

Q: You were accepted to Harvey Mudd on Feb 15. Why did you choose to attend?

A: I really wanted to go to a small school that had a focus on engineering.

Harvey Mudd also has a clinic program that really appealed to me. (In their junior and senior years, students at Harvey Mudd work together in groups of four or five to solve technical problems for corporate, national, laboratory and agency sponsors.)

Harvey Mudd also has a very cooperative atmosphere among students, rather than a competitive one. Lastly, I will be able to take classes at the other Claremont Colleges, and it is in California.

By Héloïse Schep

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