Shin crosses the bridge to Princeton

North Penn Senior Julia Shin was accepted to Princeton University and details her experience below, hoping to expose other students to the path she took with Questbridge.

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Julia Shin will soon roam the halls of Princeton University, moving on from North Penn’s castle walls.

Life-changing opportunities come rarely in life, and as a high school student, the first place that starts is with college applications. Throughout the process, countless hours go towards essay writing and interview preparation in hopes of landing the dream college.

But then, the long-awaited decision finally arrives.

Typically high school students open their college decisions in the comfort of their home or at school with friends, but for Julia Shin, this wasn’t the case. In December, Shin was in New York City with her family, and Princeton University had finally sent her decision to her.

I made everyone leave the room because I thought I wasn’t going to get in. Then I opened it and just screamed for ten minutes. Then my mom, aunt, and cousins rushed into the room, and we all screamed together.”

— Julia Shin, NPHS Senior

“My cousins had come for thanksgiving and stayed a little longer after that. We all went up to New York City together. For some reason, that day I drank coffee even though I never drink coffee. So I was feeling so extra anxious the entire day because of the coffee and waiting for my decision,” Shin said, “We went back to the place we were staying, and I made everyone leave the room because I thought I wasn’t going to get in. Then I opened it and just screamed for ten minutes. Then my mom, aunt, and cousins rushed into the room, and we all screamed together.”

Julia Shin was accepted into Princeton through Questbridge Match, receiving their Match Scholarship. She will attend Princeton for all four years with her tuition completely covered. Despite the achievements, Shin remains humble.

“I didn’t think I was going to get in through Questbridge because so many talented people are applying. You could be the most qualified person in the world, but for schools like Princeton, it’s still by chance. You still have to be lucky to get in. I think I definitely doubted myself a lot going in, but at the same time, I think that. It’s still weird to me. It’s all surreal,” Shin said.

A certain level of hard work, determination, and dedication was required to reach this. Throughout the challenges Shin faced on her own and with the rest of the world, she learned skills that helped her succeed more moving forward and found lessons that will carry on in the rest of her life.

I think throughout my entire high school experience, I took the most challenging courses I could, and honestly, I don’t regret it all because it gave me a strong sense of work ethic. That has given me trust in myself, and I feel like I will be someone who will do whatever needs to be done once I get to college.”

— Julia Shin, NPHS Senior

“I think throughout my entire high school experience, I took the most challenging courses I could, and honestly, I don’t regret it all because it gave me a strong sense of work ethic. That has given me trust in myself, and I feel like I will be someone who will do whatever needs to be done once I get to college. I also feel like something that was challenging, for everyone really, was the pandemic. My mom lost her job, but in everything, there was an opportunity to be found,” Shin said.

As Shin moves on from North Penn, she thanks her friends and English teachers for remaining supportive throughout her journey. As she heads to Princeton, Shin looks forward to new opportunities as a chance to grow beyond her current scope.

“I want to try to branch out into many extracurriculars. Princeton has so many opportunities. I’m interested in pre-law and Princeton has a lot of law review journals, pre-law societies, and mock trials. Also, I am pretty sure I will be majoring in English or Comparative Literature. There are so many ways to get involved and explore creative writing opportunities,” Shin said.

Shin also took time and walked through her process with Questbridge and Matriculate, two college services she was able to use during her application process.

“Questbridge is a low income, high achieving student targeted college service. Matriculate is a service that matches you up with someone who’s gotten into a good college. A college sophomore at Penn was my match, and she was really helpful in my application process,” Shin said, “They are both really great resources. Before them, I didn’t realize all the great things I could do with these schools. It helped me decide what schools I would really like to apply to and attend.”

Shin encourages students to use these resources to their advantage, especially those who are in challenging situations. Though her sister was helpful in her application process, her parents did not know how to navigate the college application process in the United States, which made things difficult.

A lot of scholarships aren’t really advertised to you; you have to go out and search for them, but some people just know about it. So they might then get ahead of you. For people who don’t know a lot about the application process, these resources can be really helpful.”

— Julia Shin, NPHS Senior

“This is something that’s challenging for a lot of people, whose parents don’t know how to navigate college because it’s so complicated. Being a Questbridge Scholar provides a network of support throughout the application process and college overall. With Matriculate, someone looked over all my essays and walked me through all the scholarships I could apply for. A lot of scholarships aren’t really advertised to you; you have to go out and search for them, but some people just know about it. So they might then get ahead of you. For people who don’t know a lot about the application process, these resources can be really helpful,” Shin said thankfully.

Shin hopes that current underclassmen understand that they aren’t alone throughout their application processes. She recognizes how daunting looking toward the future is. With that in mind, she also provided insight into how she views colleges herself and offered one last piece of advice to those going into the same frightening situation she was once in.

“Don’t stress about it too much and have your eye on more than one school. You have no idea about the opportunities that you might miss out on if you are fixated on one school. I would also say don’t do things just to get into college during high school. Find something that you really love and are really passionate about. If you excel in that one thing, colleges are going to see that. Colleges will see you as an interesting person. But more importantly, it will help you, not only in college, but also in regular life,” Shin concluded.