Skip to content

My Journey To Arriving At Rochester

Hello! My name is Sammy Cheng, and this is my first official blog post. I have moved into the beautiful residence hall known as Susan B. Anthony Halls. My career at the University of Rochester has just begun, but memories have already been made. In the first week at Orientation, a variety of informational sessions have enlightened first-year students on making better choices and being more accepting of the diverse population that is present at Rochester.

A View of Rush Rhee's from Susan B Hall.
A View of Rush Rhees from Susan B Hall.


Furthermore, the first week was filled with singing from fantastic a cappella groups (a cappella is huge at Rochester), dancing at the celebrating diversity event (so many dance clubs), and amazing talent from all of the awe-inspiring students at the University.

Although, in my opinion, the most important event that set Rochester apart from any other college orientation was the candlelight ceremony. Looking at all of the dimly lit faces of my fellow peers in one huge circle was not only good for the aesthetics on camera but was a realization that I was connecting myself to a larger network of intelligent and aspiring minds. Overall, Orientation was like a huge celebration of my high school achievements. I finally arrived at the next checkpoint after working hard for years.

Candlelight Ceremony
Candlelight Ceremony (Photo credit Aaron Raymond, UR Photography Club)


However, going through Orientation is only the easy part. The difficult part is actually arriving at Orientation. No, I am not talking about driving or flying to Rochester, although that was a struggle in itself. I am talking about the actual admissions process.

I’d like to share my personal admissions experience:

1. Deciding to apply to the University of Rochester

I, like many others, never considered attending the University of Rochester until my senior year. Even then, I may not have even heard about Rochester without my favorite high school teacher telling me about her alma mater.

Rochester is not well-known compared to New York University or Harvard. However, that does not mean it falters in comparison to the more recognizable schools. Even when you consider Rochester as a possible choice, you might hesitate about heading to Upstate New York. But if you do some research, you’ll learn about its immense pre-med/pre-health program, expansive research opportunities, and incredible student life (275+ clubs). From my personal experience, Rochester is definitely a school well-deserving of its rank and prestige.

2. Choosing to apply Early Decision or Regular Decision

To be bound or not to be bound? I personally did not apply Early Decision (ED), but my roommate did. There are many perks to applying ED, such as receiving your application decision much sooner, being able to choose your residence hall, and knowing where you’re going to college a lot earlier than your friends. My decision to apply Regular Decision (RD) was due primarily to the fact that I did not hear about Rochester until two to three months after the beginning of my senior year, and it was too late to apply ED.

3. Interviewing

After completing the basic parts of Rochester’s application and submitting the Common Application, I signed up for an admissions interview. My interview was after the Early Decision deadline, and that’s one big reason why I regret not choosing ED. Having an interview is extremely important, not only because Rochester recommends it, but because the interviewer informed me of so much about the school.

I learned about the flexible curriculum, the cluster format, the student-first mentality, and much more. She also described her own experience at Rochester, including a Russian cluster and a health, behavior, and society major. Later on, she emailed me to congratulate me on my acceptance, and I felt immediately part of the Rochester family. In a lot of ways, this interviewer was such a pivotal person in my decision one month later. Her love for her alma mater was such a connecting experience that made me want to follow in her footsteps.

4. Receiving the admissions letter and saying yes!

I remember the exact moment I received my admissions decision. I was sitting in the hallway prepared to enter my microbiology class when I saw the email from the Office of Admissions. I felt dazed upon seeing the words “Welcome to the University of Rochester’s 167th Class!”

However, the more important part of the letter was the following section. Rochester sent a personalized message talking about the specifics of my application. I mentioned the importance of research and a specific club at my high school, which were both addressed by the admissions team. I felt much more connected to Rochester than to the colleges sending me generic acceptance letters. There is a lot of emotion in knowing that a school is willing to dedicate time to show you how you’re a part of their family instead of just saying it.

A week later, I submitted my enrollment form.

5. Arriving on campus

(I’m skipping talking about the summer paperwork I had to fill out, including health forms, roommate selection, etc.) I arrived on campus on August 23. Imagine going to a city that is nine hours away from home. It was definitely nerve-racking at first, but I had embraced my new family long ago. As soon as I hit the interviewing stage, I had already felt connected to Rochester. Arriving at Orientation became such a momentous experience in my life, and I am glad for the journey leading to that point.

Hopefully, this insight will be helpful for those of you who are worried or have questions about the process of applying to the University of Rochester.

Return to the top of the page