A Sneak ‘Peek’: Senior Elizabeth Peek Talks College Admissions and Beyond


While most high school students throw parties to kick off spring break or to celebrate their friend’s birthday, academically-driven senior Elizabeth Peek attended that “party last fall [where she and her friends] ate food and worked on [their] college essays.”

Although Peek recalls working diligently during her time in high school, she advises students to prioritize their time and to “not let [their busy academic life] take away from having fun in high school.” For this senior, homework does not always have to be a monotonous task, as “a lot of work is play, and vice versa.”

Peek has been admitted to several amazing schools: UCLA, UC Berkeley, UCSD, UC Riverside, UCSB, SDSU Honors, Simmons Honors College, University of San Francisco, and Cal Poly SLO. She was waitlisted at Case Western Reserve University and denied at Stanford University. With all of these options, her top choices include UCLA, UC Berkeley and UCSD.

She plans to “major in statistics and then [possibly] take a second major or minor in neurology” because, to her, “numbers are a way to find a clue to a much very large abstract issue.” For Peek, the UC schools are the best option for her. “They were more affordable for my family, and … a lot of them have a wide range of majors.”

To be admitted to these prestigious universities, one may wonder how to stand out from the rest of the applicant pool. However, Peek herself does not necessarily have the answers. While she is unsure of what set her apart from other prospective students, she thinks her college essays, that she spent all summer and most of fall working on, boosted her acceptance chances.

In addition to persistently working on her college essays, Peek maintained a rigorous course schedule by taking a plethora of AP classes and community college courses alongside extracurriculars.

In addition to being co-captain of the Varsity Academic League Team, Peek is one of the three founding members of the Varsity Flag Team, and has been a part of choir since kindergarten. “I think the continuity of doing things for a long time, showing commitment, showing discipline and working your way up …  really helped,” Peek said.

Peek has had to balance all of these commitments while simultaneously tackling a number of struggles at home. “Traditionally, you study for the SAT during your sophomore and junior year, but in my case, I couldn’t because I was helping my family through mother’s health issues,” she said. “I think that played a role in my lower SAT score, but, honestly, after the shift in the SAT going from 2400 to 1600, and getting my acceptance letters, I realized SAT scores are only a small factor in terms of admissions. [Admission officers] take into greater consideration if you’ve had a rigorous course schedule and if you’ve worked your tail off and you tried … wherever you were [at].”

Her advice for underclassmen? “If you’re really serious about [college admissions], try to cram your APs into your sophomore and junior year … because that’s how they calculate your GPA for CSU and UC schools.” In terms of scoring on the ACT and SAT tests, Peek encourages students to study but to not overwork themselves.

Most importantly, Peek reminds us not to lose sight of ourselves by obsessing over grades and scores because “as people, we are so much more than just our numbers.”