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This Georgia teen just got into 49 colleges. Here's how she did it.

Makenzie Thompson, who received $1.3 million in scholarship offers, will study animal science at Tuskegee University.
Makenzie Thompson will attend Tuskegee University in the fall.
Makenzie Thompson will attend Tuskegee University in the fall.Courtesy of Makenzie Thompson.

Atlanta high school senior Makenzie Thompson wanted to have plenty of choices when it came to college. So, she hedged her bets and applied to 51 schools across the country, from Texas to Illinois to Delaware.

Thompson, 18, did not expect to be accepted to 49 of them, nor that she would receive $1.3 million in scholarship offers from the schools combined.

“The acceptances started coming in the mail and over email. My parents were like, ‘wow, there’s another one.’ We saw the folder getting thicker and thicker over time,” Thompson recounted to Know Your Value. “Acceptance is one thing, but once you see that they were going to offer me money—that really started adding up fast.”

Thompson’s believes her 4.0 grade point average and extracurricular resume likely stood out to the admissions officials. She is class president at Westlake High School in Atlanta, Georgia, co-captain of the varsity dance team, manager of the baseball team, and much, much more.

“I’m the type that has to keep busy. I like to participate anytime I have free time. When dance season was over, I took on baseball,” she said. “During Covid-19, I became really anxious and bored at home so I ran for junior class vice president virtually and won.”

Makenzie Thompson participated in many extracurricular activities in high school, including managing her school's baseball team.
Makenzie Thompson participated in many extracurricular activities in high school, including managing her school's baseball team.Courtesy of Makenzie Thompson.

Thompson’s only rejections came from Cornell University and the University of Illinois, she said.

After her acceptances rolled in, Thompson started visiting some of her prospective choices. Almost right away, she knew deep down that she wanted to attend Tuskegee University in Alabama.

“Tuskegee’s environment and the atmosphere, the campus life, it made me feel like I was at home and that I would thrive there,” she said.

Further, growing up an only child of working parents in Atlanta, Thompson said she developed an affinity for her pets—from dogs to guinea pigs. She always wanted to become a veterinarian, and Tuskegee University is renowned for training Black veterinarians. She will be attending the university in the fall.

Makenzie Thompson has a love for animals and says she wants to be a veterinarian one day.
Makenzie Thompson has a love for animals and says she wants to be a veterinarian one day.Courtesy of Makenzie Thompson.

College acceptance is more competitive than ever, but some online tools and college fairs have made it easier to apply quickly to many colleges in a short period of time. Thompson said that fairs at her high school allowed her to submit her transcript quickly to multiple universities. In 2018, Greensboro, N.C. senior Jasmine E. Harrison applied to 115 schools often at the same time using online tools. She was accepted into 113 of them.

Thompson acknowledged that many students are facing rejection or difficulties when it comes to applying to college, however, but advised them to keep trying.

“I know that there are times when it all seems scary, but you should trust the process,“ said Thompson. “Everything will work out as it’s supposed to as long as you’re staying dedicated, putting in the hard work and making your priorities straight.”