David Kim and Maggie Shoemaker were among over 2,300 students world-wide who applied to Phillips Academy for the 2008-2009 academic year. In mid-March, Kim’s hopes of attending PA were crushed, while Maggie’s dream was realized.
Kim, a California resident, applied to Phillips Academy, Phillips Exeter Academy, and Hotchkiss School in January. Though waitlisted at Hotchkiss, Kim was sad to report his rejection from both PA and PEA. Kim recalled the progression of letters. “Exeter’s came first and the letter said ‘no.’ I was disappointed, and my hopes deflated a little at that point. Hotchkiss came next, and their letter said I was on the waiting list, which raised my hopes a little. Then Andover came, and because it took so long to come, I got that feeling that I didn’t get in,” he said.
Andover’s rejection came as a shock to Kim and his family. Due to his relative weakness in math, Kim had doubted his chances with Exeter, which he had perceived as more math- and science-oriented than PA. However, Kim said that he had thought himself qualified for a place at Andover. “I didn’t really want to get into Exeter, but with Andover I was a little bit depressed. I mean, sure, my essays were a little bit rushed, but I feel like I did pretty well on them. Honestly, I think it was my SSAT scores. They could have been better,” Kim explained. “After I sent in my app, for the rest of January I was relieved to get it over with and to get my mind off it, because that stuff is so tedious. February rolled around, and it gradually got more important, and by March I was getting excited. By March 15, I was a little jumpy; I just wanted to know their response,” Kim recalled.
Kim said he remains hopeful about his chances at Hotchkiss but is prepared to attend Troy High School in Fullerton, California if his last bid for boarding school fails. At Troy, Kim would take part in an advanced program called International Baccalaureate, which has a strong reputation for math, science, social science and language arts, according to Kim. Wherever he ends up attending for ninth grade, Kim intends to reapply to PA next year.
Maggie Shoemaker, sister of Molly Shoemaker ’08, had better luck in her quest to join the Big Blue. Shoemaker, who applied only to Andover, received her acceptance letter on March 11. “My mom came to school, and they called me down to the office,” Shoemaker said happily. “She said, ‘Look what came for you,’ and from her tone and the envelope, I knew that I got in,” she recalled.
Andover’s reply was a satisfying conclusion to what Shoemaker described as four long and stressful months. From studying for the SSATs to filling out endless paperwork to nervously awaiting a reply, Shoemaker found the process often overwhelming. Shoemaker said she was particularly concerned about her admissions essay. The topic was proposing ideas for the Green Cup Challenge. “The essay could only be 500 words, and I had gone over word limit. My sister said it didn’t matter and that they weren’t actually going to count [the words], but I was still afraid they would know somehow,” Shoemaker said.
Now that her place at PA is secured, Shoemaker has begun planning for her freshman year. She hopes to live in Nathan Hale and intends to try out for cross-country, crew and one or more of the campus dance groups. Shoemaker will also continue to pursue swimming, her main sport. As with many incoming students, Shoemaker’s hopes are mixed with some apprehension. “I’m nervous that I’m not going to be as smart as everyone else, and that everyone else is going to be way ahead of me,” she said. Though she is ready to leave home, Shoemaker said that she will miss the friends she has known since as early as the third grade. She is confident that they will keep in touch during her four years at Phillips Academy.