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Pennsylvania teen shares advice after receiving $1.8 million in scholarships, 57 college offers

Pennsylvania teen shares advice after receiving $1.8 million in scholarships, 57 college offers

A recent Pennsylvania graduate from East Stroudsburg South High School is sharing tips for other teens after getting accepted to 57 colleges and universities.

Sydni Smith, who received her diploma on June 11 and graduated in the top 10% of her class, began applying to schools in  Fall last year  and received her first acceptance letter in November.

“When it came to applying I wanted to have a lot of options. I’m indecisive and I didn’t want to just apply to one school — my dream school — if I didn’t get in. I wanted something I could fall back on,” Smith, 17, says. ”Also I wanted to be debt free out of college, so I was trying to see what school would give me the best scholarships.”

A member of multiple school clubs – including Red Cross, National Honor Society, debate and DECA – Smith was ultimately awarded $1.8 million in scholarships.

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Smith used the Common Black College Application and the Common App to submit applications to multiple colleges simultaneously.

The Common Black College Application, created in 2000 by Robert Mason, streamlines the application process for those applying to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). For $20, students are able to fill out an application and apply to 64 HBCUs at once.

Out of the 64 HBCUs, Smith was accepted to 41. The remaining 16 found Smith’s application on the Common App.

Smith had her eye on Duke University, Howard University, Cornell University and Georgia Tech.In the end,she chose to attend University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Even though Michigan is not known as a HBCU, Smith’s mother, Fran Mitchell, notes it was one of the first schools to accept a Black student — Samuel Codes Watson in 1853.

Mitchell said International students make up 15% of the student body today.

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“Sydni has a progressive mindset being a Black young lady and Michigan is going to be a great fit for her because it is a progressive university and they cater to minority students. Even though the minority population is still small they really make the minority students feel seen — and not just Black students, we saw a lot of Asian and Middle Eastern students walking around,” Mitchell says.

For soon-to-be grads who are just starting to embark on their application process, Smith said they shouldn’t hold themselves back in any way.

“Put yourself out there and try your best,” she says. “I never would have thought I was going to get into University of Michigan with almost a full ride.”  

And plan on touring campuses as early of spring of your junior year.

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