Megan, Producer's Assistant
Class of 2012 out of Sentinel
Class of 2016 at University of Southern California
BA in Cinematic Arts and a BA in English (Creative Writing), Magna Cum Laude
Employer: Circle of Confusion in Los Angeles, CA
Career Trajectory: Film/TV Producer, Writer
What were your goals for college admission? Did you accomplish them?
Six years ago (wow, how time flies), I wanted to go to an institution that would allow me to focus my studies in two vastly different areas: marine biology and creative writing. Not only that, but I needed to find a place that excelled in both areas, which can be hard to find. My goal was to also move out to the west coast and I was set on California. To do this I needed scholarships, impeccable admissions essays, and a well-rounded resume. Let's just say I am a very driven individual and my high school career was completely focused on getting into the best college I could; an institution that would allow me to grow into a career where I would succeed and enjoy my work. Looking back, I can say with certainty that I accomplished these goals. USC was the perfect place for me to grow as an individual and it was INSANE to see how supportive the university is of students taking on multiple majors in different colleges within the school.
What was most helpful about working with Hughes College Prep?
I've always struggled with multiple choice exams, and where most students sighed with horror I sighed with relief when a written exam was placed in front of me (BSing is a talent). Kelly was extremely helpful when it came to prepping for the SAT and ACT - two incredibly stressful exams that unfairly made up a large portion of my applications. Kelly also acted as a third-party when I was editing my essays. Working within a creative business, I now understand how much you need to tailor your voice in order to manipulate it into something that provokes your intended audience, but is also what they wanted to hear all along. Hughes College Prep helped me do that, and I'm grateful for the early lesson in marketing a person's (in this case my) potential. And I can't stress the importance of scholarships, which Hughes College Prep helped me seek out and obtain.
What was the biggest surprise, good or bad, about the admissions process in general?
I never thought I would end up where I did. There's so much that goes into the decision making process when choosing a school - both where to apply to and where you end up going. A few schools I thought for sure that I would absolutely love I ended up hating when I went on campus tours. The vibe was off, and it's extremely important to feel at home on campus. It's also surprising to see just how different each school is when you are going through their application process, and also what each degree requires.
Were you accepted to one of your top three school choices?
I was accepted to one of my top three school choices, UC Berkeley, but ended up changing my mind only a day or two before I needed to officially make my decision. My heart had been set on Berkeley, but for many reasons both practical and emotional I signed at USC. In all honesty though, where you go to school isn't always the most important aspect of the collegiate experience. It's more about the network that you create and how you personally shape that experience.
What difference did your scholarships make when attending college?
All of the difference. College is not cheap, and the price is steadily rising. The application process for scholarships and researching which ones were right for me was tedious, but Hughes College Prep streamlined the process and helped me capitalize on many opportunities.
Did you feel supported by Hughes College Prep during the admission process? If so, how?
I felt very supported by Hughes College Prep. It's a family atmosphere and you can tell that Kelly cares deeply about her student's passions. It's not about the fanciest institution, but about which university is the perfect fit inside and outside the classroom.
What surprised you most about working with Hughes College Prep?
At Hughes College Prep I was surprised by how much I was able to achieve with the extra guidance and help with my application process. It's also surprising how lasting advice given to you as a 17/18 year old sticks with you. I'll always be grateful to Hughes College Prep for giving me the tools and strategies to "beat the system" and set myself up for lasting success.
Are there any aspects of your time with Hughes that stick out as having carried through to other elements of your life, beyond college admissions, such as college, jobs, etc.?
For so long I was absolutely certain I would become a biologist. It was ingrained in my psyche. I still remember Kelly telling me that everyone ends up changing their major and there are very few people who stick to their original plans, "so keep an open mind." She was right. I kept an open mind, and ended up falling in love with filmmaking and embarking on a future I never dreamed possible. During the admissions process with Hughes College Prep I was told to keep my head up, try new things, and know that when you get to college you may not be the straight A student any longer. I'm so grateful to have had those frank conversations, as the transition from Missoula to Los Angeles/High School to College can be very challenging. Kelly's advice made it rewarding.
How soon after graduating college were you employed?
I freelanced as an Assistant Director during school and a lit bit after graduation, relying on connections I had built up while interning/working on film shoots. After a bit I wanted something steadier that would help me move up the ranks of Hollywood and took a full time job at an agency after about a month of searching/hustling.
What is one bit of advice you would give to parents of college-bound students?
Let them go and make mistakes. The only way a young adult is going to grow is if they are allowed to fall, learn, and get back up to fall all over again. There are so many things I wish I could go back and change, but at the end of the day I am grateful to have gone through those experiences. I've hustled to be where I am now. Also, tell your kids to have some fun. College isn't just about learning, it's also a playground of like-minded individuals. Keep an open mind and let your little adult explore their potential. If they want to take a pottery class- sure! If they change their major two years in (yep, that was me) let them make that decision. Be a guide, but not a puppet master. I am extremely lucky to have two very supportive parents, and while they helped me make decisions through my years at USC I always had the final say.
What is one bit of advice you would give to the students themselves?
See above. Stay open minded and be sure to have fun. Grades are important, but they aren't everything. College is where you can take academic risks without real world consequences. SO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE OPPORTUNITY. Travel, explore, set fire to the chem lab (metaphorically), write a perverse poem, and speak with diverse students. Also don't forget about those that supported you along the way. Being blunt - if you're the honor roll, top notch student, there's a high likely hood you won't be any longer. Accept that early on and fight to get back on top. These are the years where you are going to find out what you love, detest, mirror, analyze, are great at, fail at, etc. Never stay in your comfort zone. Say yes to everything (within the confines of the law). Evolve.