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Jul 15 2017
by Victoria Nguyen

How This Senior Got Into His Dream College With An 1180 SAT Score

By Victoria Nguyen - Jul 15 2017
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Fred Villa, a high-school graduate from the class of 2017, can be found shamelessly missing several beats while dancing to a Beyoncé playlist, headbanging to Troye Sivan while doing homework at Panera or creating clever concepts in his YouTube videos, paintings and ceramic objects. However, you won't find him a victim to having a craned neck and aching headaches due to long hours of tedious preparation for standardized testing. Despite receiving an SAT score of 1180, which is below the target score of his dream school (UCSD), Fred was accepted into San Francisco State University, San Diego State University, University of California Riverside, University of California Irvine and University of California San Diego. 

To get more insight on the multiple factors that are considered by college admissions, Fresh U asked Fred a couple of questions pertaining to his experiences in high school and the college application process.  

1. What did you devote most of your time to in high school? 

"I devoted a lot of my time to academics, key club, class council, marching band, Associations for Filipino America and more."

2. What factor do you think contributed the most to your acceptances? 

"The multiple leadership positions probably played a big role in my acceptance. With my mediocre SAT score, I think the diverse leadership roles that I had enabled me to stand out as an applicant in various aspects. I held a role in every club I involved myself in, which contributed to a great experience and even better essays!" 

3. What was your hardest struggle in high school and what did you learn from it? 

"Balancing myself out was the hardest struggle. I spread myself way too thin, which did not end well. However, things played out and I was able to slim down my activity load and focus more on my academics." 

4.  Do you have any tips for the personal insight questions? 

"When it comes to personal statements, remember to stay genuine and to the point. Whether if it's the UC schools or other universities, every college is looking for someone that is unique and extraordinary. Don't be afraid to have rough patches in the beginning because your essays will come out strong in the end. Persevere!" 

5. Do you have any other advice to the upcoming high school seniors who will be applying to college? 

"Utilize every ounce of experience and adversity that you have endured throughout high school. Colleges love people who can overcome challenges and who know how to truly rise to the occasion. In the end, remember it's not about how many activities you did but about how you handled each and every single one to better yourself as a leader, and most importantly as a person."

Fred will be attending the University of California San Diego this fall with a major in communications. Check out his vlog here for more insight and tips on the college admissions process that weren't mentioned in this article! 

It's important to remember that SAT scores are very skewed, as it is not a subject that we all have access to in a classroom. Some students may be more privileged than others in terms of being able to afford expensive SAT preparatory classes or tutors. Some students may only be able to afford a preparatory book or have to use free online resources. Some students may not even have the time to study due to circumstances in their personal life. Ultimately, your score does not define you. A four hour test scored by a computer can not convey who you are to college admissions. A four hour hangout with somebody can't even encapsulate a third of your capabilities. Although you will be limited by word count, you will have multiple opportunities to express yourself in your college application. 

Lead Image Credit: Fred Villa 


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Victoria Nguyen - University of California, Irvine

Victoria Nguyen is a freshman at University of California Irvine majoring in Social Ecology. Follow her on Instagram! @victoriatsn

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