May 3, 2024

How I got into Franklin & Marshall College with a full-ride scholarship as an Armenian student

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Mariam from Armenia 🇦🇲

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How I got into Franklin & Marshall College with a full-ride scholarship as an Armenian student

Hi, my name is Mariam Petrosian and I’m from Armenia. I have recently got into Franklin & Marshall College.

My background 

I'm from the Shirak region of Armenia, specifically from one of its mountainous villages. I attended an economic high school in Gyumri and concentrated on English, Armenian, and Armenian history. After high school, I took a gap year to reapply to many universities. I believe that taking a gap year, especially coming from a small village, was very helpful for me—and I guess for many students from Armenia as well.

My GPA was around 3.7 on a 4-point scale. At the end of high school, I took exams in my concentrations plus math, scoring on a scale from 1 to 20. I scored 17 in history, 18 in math, and 19 in Armenian. I decided to apply test-optional, without the SAT. Additionally, I took the Duolingo English Test and scored 145.

Why I wanted to study abroad

In regions like mine, there is stereotypical thinking among traditional families that girls should opt for safe university choices. Yet, there aren’t many opportunities for self-development. When I joined EducationUSA Armenia two years ago, I learned everything I needed to do to get into a US university. I gained significant insight into the complex admission process. With such guidance through the application process, it was much easier. However, as a gap year student, I would say that studying abroad is a great opportunity, especially for students from small regions, due to all the opportunities, facilities, and higher education that the US offers—standards that would be out of reach in Armenia. Additionally, I find the US a great place for networking, which was another factor influencing my decision since it is something I could barely do here in Armenia. Moreover, finding a path filled with so many upcoming life-changing opportunities abroad, I aim to bring many educational opportunities back to Armenia to make a tangible difference in my community and beyond.

My gap year 

My gap year was impressive but also challenging because I was uncertain about what I wanted to major in during college and how to effectively use the opportunities I had to achieve my goals. It felt like I was stuck, and everyone else was moving forward while I was still in the same place. However, it's not really like that. A gap year is a life-changing experience. For instance, I got involved in a UNICEF project and then became a delegate representing Armenia in Sweden. I made many friends during this event, which focused on gender equality in STEM and other fields that are not often discussed. So, I would say it was very rewarding not only to represent my country but also to meet many game-changers from around the world and immerse myself in the international environment.

Nevertheless, there was a period when I also felt uncertain, but I always tried to define my own success and values. Through informal education and many community-building projects, I gained experience and tested my strengths in various spheres. Additionally, I dedicated some time to exploration, aligning my interests with my goals for the admission process.

My extracurriculars 

My activity list consisted of:

  1. Environmental projects - I was part of an NGO and conducted several workshops for young high school students and organized city clean-ups in collaboration with some schools. 

  2. I was a UNICEF delegation representative of Armenia. I facilitated making a laboratory within the scope of  UNICEF and NYU by taking part in the “ Education and Employment Gaps” committee.

  3. I was also a member and a facilitator of the European Youth Parliament which is considered one of the biggest platforms for political debate in Armenia and generally in Europe.

  4. As a feminist and activist, I had a volunteering experience at the Women's Resource Center of Armenia.

  5. Volunteering at the Central Bank of Armenia was a great chance to explore the current challenges youngsters may face in terms of financial literacy in high school, etc.

I tried to show admissions that I am a well-rounded person, and I think I achieved that through my extracurriculars. Since there was a part for honors too, I mostly showed my impact not only in my community but beyond. And, still, I included an internship in my activity list I'd done during high school, and that was quite helpful for me to gain proficiency.

My Common App essay 

I wrote my essay primarily about gender equality and about being a girl from a small region seeking opportunities and getting a chance to represent Armenia on the international stage. Even though my college essay did not have a title, I started the statement with the sentence, "For every girl, opportunity!" which was the opening sentence of the session that made me reflect on it often. However, a significant part of this experience redefined my values by demonstrating the impact of one of the tasks, which was to draw a self-portrait that later evolved into introducing the small village where I originally come from.

What helped me with my application 

I need to specifically mention EducationUSA Armenia because the advising process has been free for students. They provided guidance on everything—from structuring your extracurriculars to writing your essays. I believe that this kind of good advice greatly facilitated the process for me. However, beyond that, I would say that you also need specific skills to ensure that you are presenting yourself in the correct way, the way you want to be seen by the admissions office. They don't see you; they just read your application and everything you put there, so my advice is to think about how all the bits in your application paint the collective picture of you.

Why Franklin & Marshall

I would say that the network of international students surprised me a lot. I felt like the school that is so international would be a good fit for me. When I was choosing whether to apply early or regular decision, I thought about applying early decision to show my commitment to the school that I really loved.

I took a gap year and last year I also applied to F&M. I unfortunately got waitlisted. And so that is why this year I decided to apply early. Additionally, the college gives me a lot of additional opportunities, so for me, I will be spending my first semester in England. And just imagine you are an international student and a freshman, and your school is giving you this additional opportunity to be so flexible even during your first year.

Moreover, I received a full-ride scholarship from F&M, and they only left an estimated cost of college of $1,300 to be paid by me. They don't pay for my flight and visa expenses, but during my EducationUSA's experience, I have become an "Opportunity Funds" recipient, and the program will cover my visa expenses and other upfront costs as an awardee. The costs are paid by the US department, so I have that covered, but not by the college.

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My advice 

I would say never regret what you are doing, what you have done, and what you are planning on doing in any case. I believe that most of the students who are applying abroad might get some rejections, and it's very disappointing for them since they're putting all their resources to just receive the result at the end. But I advise you not to be disappointed, since you have accomplished a lot. Also, don't be scared of redefining your path. Something might not be working for you anymore, and maybe you need to reflect and take a step back; don't be scared of that. At the end, it is better to do something pleasant than just torture yourself by doing something continuously.

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from Armenia 🇦🇲

Duration of Study

Sep 2024 — May 2028


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  1. 😛


    2 months ago

    Pls is it advisable to apply to the school I applied to for fall 24 again in fall 25

    Also you said u included only one activity u did in high school only for fall 24 application so the rest are the activities you did during your Gap years right