MHS Students Earn Early College Acceptance

Nancy Walecki, Yale

What are the keys to acceptance into an elite university?

As Malibu High School (MHS) students return to classes after winter break, The Malibu Times talked with several second semester seniors who have already been accepted into some of the top universities in the country to find out the secrets behind the college application process and what it truly takes to get into prestigious higher learning facilities.

While seniors every year are wracked with stress on finishing applications in time for the looming deadlines, one of the keys to success appears to be finding a balance between working hard and enjoying those last moments in high school, according to these high-achieving seniors.

“The college admissions process is important, but so is sanity and sleep and happiness,” singer Nancy Walecki, a MHS senior who recently received her acceptance letter from Yale University, said. A member of the prestigious Ivy League, U.S. News & World Report ranks Yale third best college in its national universities category. 

MHS mock trial star Hannah Gruendemann explained that elite universities across the country want to know that whoever they accept will thrive in their educative community. Gruendemann was recently accepted into Williams College, the number one ranked liberal arts college, according to U.S News & World Report. She encourages hopeful seniors to be themselves.

“Work hard, be yourself and don’t try and pretend to be someone you’re not. The person that you are has to go to the school, not the persona you wrote on paper,” Gruendemann explained.

Dancer and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles intern Natasha Rothenbucher — who was accepted at Georgetown University, another top ranked school (21st in the country on the U.S. News & World Report ranking) — also agreed that she believed being herself helped her chances of her acceptance.

“Just don’t worry about doing things just to have your application look good, but rather do things because you love to do them,” Rothenbucher said.

Being an active member of the community is also very important, according to Vassar College acceptee Dane Marshall, who is part of the 23.5 percent of applicants who are admitted each year to the 155-year-old New York college.  

“Leadership is a very big thing that colleges look for, so in every area I was doing something, I tried to become a leader in that. I ran for senior class president, I’ve been captain of the basketball team for two years, I’m a student producer for Shark TV and I’m an editor for the school newspaper, the Malibu High Current,” Marshall said.

The students also agreed that getting help is important, whether it be proofreading application essays, understanding specific supplements or any other problems that may arise during the application process.

“Seek help in every single possible manner,” Dylan Cohen, who was accepted into the University of Michigan — Ann Arbor. “There’s no harm in seeking help. Study hard, volunteer and show you are a well-rounded person and do whatever it takes to do that.”

The accepted seniors all agreed on one aspect of the application process — start early. Many of the seniors started the application process over the summer to heighten their chances and to stay on top of their work.

“I would’ve started even earlier than I did,” Rothenbucher said when discussing what benefitted her in the application process. “I was a little crunched for time at the end.” 

The secrets to getting into college were to work hard, stay true to oneself, be active in the community, seek help and, ultimately, let the chips fall where they may.

“Apply and be yourself and trust that it will end up the way it’s supposed to,” Walecki concluded.