Updated: Jul 18, 2021
We had the opportunity of interviewing Luke Drago, a student at Oxford University, about: College Application
In high school, Luke was the Public Forum Debate captain, an octofinalist at the 2019 NCFL National Debate Tournament, a three-time national qualifier in the National History Day documentary competition (and three-time finalist in the local and state National History Day documentary competition), a strategy intern for the McCool for Matthews campaign, the co-founder of his school's social justice club. Luke also scored a 32 on his ACT and has over 2000 hours volunteered at his local church.
Key points Luke shares:
I reduced my course load so I’d have time for applications. I spent the majority of my freetime in cafes and at friends' houses applying to college. It takes a lot of time, so I’d recommend you bring a few friends that you trust will keep you focused.
My main priority was to be challenged academically. Outside of that, I valued location, cost, and the size of the school. I wanted a school that felt like a small school but had the opportunities a big school has. Oxford fit all of those criteria for me.
Q: What were some important steps you took to prepare for college and when would you suggest taking them? (research, applying for financial aid, freshmen year, sophomore year, etc.)
A: I know this isn’t the correct answer, but my preparation for applying to college happened as I started applying in my senior year. I was flying blind. I didn’t even know what schools I was going to apply for until a few weeks before the deadline for my first school. I don’t recommend that. It worked out for me, but I got lucky. I’d recommend you start looking into colleges and tailoring your course load as soon as you can, maybe even as early as freshman year. But if you didn’t start freshman year, don’t worry. I was the kid scouring the internet a few weeks before the deadline looking for all the information I could. If that’s you, then the best time to start is now. You can still do it, even with a short amount of time left.
Q: What were some priorities you had for applying to college and how many did you apply to?
A: I applied to 13 colleges, but that’s because UCAS (the UK application) allows you to apply for five schools for $25 with just one essay. My main priority was to be challenged academically. Outside of that, I valued location, cost, and the size of the school. I wanted a school that felt like a small school but had the opportunities a big school has. Oxford fit all of those criteria for me.
Q: Which teachers did you ask for recommendations and why?
A: I asked my AP Lang and my AP Comparative Government teachers for recommendations. I felt like those teachers knew me best and could help an admissions reader understand my passions.
Q: What is the difference between early action and early decision and which one did you apply for?
A: Early action is a non-binding application that has an earlier deadline than regular decision. For some schools (like UNC Chapel Hill) applying early action can increase your chances of acceptance. For other schools, it has no effect. In contrast, an early decision is a binding application with an earlier deadline than a regular decision. It almost always increases your chance of getting into a school, but you are obligated to attend that school if you get in. You can only apply to one school early decision, but you can apply to as many schools as you want early action (with a few exceptions). I didn’t want to be obligated to any school, so I applied early action to every school that offered it and regular decision for the rest.
Q: How much time did you dedicate for applications as a percentage of your school year?
A: I reduced my course load so I’d have time for applications. I spent the majority of my freetime in cafes and at friends' houses applying to college. It takes a lot of time, so I’d recommend you bring a few friends that you trust will keep you focused. You don’t have to do it alone in your room; I don’t think you should.
Connect with Luke on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/mwlite/in/luke-drago-89a5a7b0.