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One UC student's journey to becoming a Bearcat

Current UC Student, Alan Pascua, shares his personal story about discovering Cincinnati and what he did to prepare for and complete the Common App

Alan Pascua in a suite and tie

Alan Pascua

When I was a junior in high school, I still had no clue where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do after I graduated. While everyone around me seemed to already have their majors and dream schools picked out, I was still struggling to find out what my passions and strengths were. At that time, our class was told to start working on our Common App, which seemed like the most uninspiring thing I could task myself with. As it turns out, I was completely wrong. With a lot of guidance along the way, the application process helped me better my own future and eventually get accepted into the school that was perfect for me, the University of Cincinnati.

As I said before, in the spring semester of my Junior year, I felt lost. I had toured nearly 15 colleges by that point, and each one had felt the same. I still had no clue what I wanted to major in, even though I said “business” when touring most of the schools. That spring, when my girlfriend told me she was going to do a tour at Cincinnati, I agreed to tag along. However, coming to UC showed me everything that I didn’t know I needed. Between the co-op opportunities, the welcoming environment, and the football stadium being in the middle of campus, I felt that I had found my home. I couldn’t really describe it to my parents, it was just a feeling I got where I could confidently say, “I want to go to school here.” Though it seems like simple advice, I strongly urge anyone applying to college to tour the campus you are applying to. It was one of the deciding factors when choosing the schools that I applied to, and it’s one of the main reasons I am so happy here at UC.

3 UC students sitting inside

During my senior year, I was a student aide for the guidance office at my school. Being there so often and helping out college admissions representatives really exposed me to a lot of great tips and pointers for enhancing my college applications. One of the things that I heard over and over again was to submit the Common App by December 1st. This Early Action deadline ended up being the saving grace to my enrollment at UC.

In general, it’s smart to apply by then anyways, since it’s non-binding and makes you eligible for many scholarship opportunities. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my Early Action application to the University of Cincinnati actually qualified me for one of the three Lindner Business Honors programs. In January, I was emailed about coming in for an interview with the programs, and a couple months later, I was accepted into the Lindner Honors-PLUS Program. This program provided me with a great scholarship as well as entrance into an amazing five-year program. Looking back on it, it wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t worked as hard on my application early on.

Something else that was extremely important in my application was showing personal improvement throughout high school. I was never extremely involved with a lot of organizations or extracurriculars in my four years. I played football, and that was about it. I thought there wasn’t even a slight chance that I would stand out to any colleges. However, by showing my development in and out of the classroom, I was able to demonstrate to colleges that I was a well-rounded student dedicated to improving myself. I did this first by stepping out of my comfort zone in the latter half of my junior year and the early part of senior year. I joined a couple clubs that I had interests in, and I started working for my school’s development office.

4 UC students posing for photo

I also expressed my academic improvement in my personal essay, where I wrote about learning from my experiences and dedicating myself to my schoolwork. This was a way of showing hard work on my part as well as explaining why my freshman year grades were so poor compared to my junior year ones. I had my English teacher, my mom, my girlfriend, and one of my guidance counselors all review my essay before submitting it. I wanted to make sure my message was consistent and thorough, and it’s important to get feedback from multiple sources before submitting something of that high of an importance.

I would also like to think that my teacher recommendations helped me out as well, though I never got to actually read them. I reached out to the teachers that I felt I was closest to - not necessarily the ones whose classes I had good grades in. I knew that they had seen my growth and attest to my willingness to improve. I never realized that talking to some of my teachers outside of class would end up benefiting me in the long run.

Being where I’m at right now has shown me that in high school, it doesn’t matter how you start; what matters is how you finish and what you learned along the way. I made sure I finished strong by the end and I wanted colleges to recognize that as well.

Currently, I am going into my second year of studies as a Marketing major here at UC. I plan to graduate in 2023 and hopefully complete my Master’s degree by my fifth year. I am finishing my first semester of working in downtown Cincinnati on my co-op internship with Nielsen. I never pictured myself in this situation when I was in high school, but I’m so glad I was able to take the steps I have so far to get here. I’m extremely grateful for all the opportunities that have shaped me, and I’m excited for what the rest of my college experience has in store for me.

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