Blogging through the journey: Student uses Tumblr to document college admissions process

Kaitlin Fischer, Staff Writer

     She goes into her room and works on her college essays. She sits alone, in front of her Mac, thinking of her future and how she can make herself unique to the colleges she is applying to. She ponders silently for a few minutes and then opens her Internet browser. She types in the link she has typed many times before.

     Suddenly, she doesn’t feel so alone.

     Senior Amy Xia began her blog,, at the end of her junior year.

     “It started as my own journey documentation kind of thing, and slowly people started following me,” Xia said. “It spiraled into a college application community.”

     Xia posts college application tips including SAT test-taking advice and possible interview questions. She also re-blogs posts from other colleges like the University of Chicago and Harvard. She is applying to Ivy League schools, so being in touch with them through Tumblr is helpful in that process.

     “I was actually first inspired because MIT has admission blogs, too,” Xia said. “Their posts are pretty cool, so I thought, ‘Maybe I can be like one of those bloggers.’ Maybe that will happen in the future, but I don’t know. Right now it’s just me kind of messing around.”

     Xia has about 450 people following her blog. Followers are those with Tumblr accounts who see Xia’s blog posts directly on their news feeds. This makes it easy for them to keep track of the blog when they visit the website. Xia also tries to keep track of her views through a “hit counter” that tells her the amount of people who have viewed her page. So far she has more than 50,000 hits.

     “It grew the most after I posted the SAT tips, because people are more interested in that,” Xia said. “I guess it just kept growing after that. Sometimes I tag my posts and people will be like, ‘Oh, that was tagged with Harvard. I’m applying there’, or something like that. It depends. If I post something that a lot of people re-blog, then it gets a little more popular. Within our college application circle of bloggers we sometimes say ‘Follow this person’ because they have helpful stuff on AP exams or something.”

    Xia also takes the time to answer any questions people submit to her blog about the application process or taking college admissions tests. She has taken the SAT, the ACT and SAT subject tests including World History, U.S. History, Math 2 and Biology. Xia has been tentative about posting her scores, because some people have reacted negatively.

     “The majority of the feedback is positive,” Xia said. “It’s like, ‘Thanks for helping me’, even though I haven’t actually gone through the whole thing myself, so I might not be the most qualified person. I have gotten some negative feedback regarding putting my test scores on my blog. I posted them at first, because someone had asked. But now I’ve removed them, since someone said that it could be considered as bragging. But I think for the most part people want to see how I did to gauge how well my prep tips on my blog worked for me.”

     Though some students from school, including her friends, follow Xia’s blog, the majority of her followers are seniors who also have blogs on the Tumblr website. Many are either applying to the same colleges Xia is applying to or want college application tips.

     “I think my friends like it,” Xia said. “I know some of my friends stalk it. I guess it’s more like we’re all kind of in a motivated circle to do things. If you see other people are motivated, then you’re surrounded in a good environment to get things done and be productive. It’s also fun.”

     For Xia, her Tumblr isn’t just a blog. It may take time, but because it’s focused on applying for college, she doesn’t feel that it is unproductive.

     “Personally, it’s more like documenting the journey,” Xia said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. That’s mainly how I use it. I use it for motivation – kind of like unwinding time, relax time. But it’s still focused on what senior year should be about – just preparing for your future.”

     Xia’s blog has helped others with their college application issues, but it has also helped her. Not only has she learned from other college blogs, but she now has other people to venture through her journey with as well.

     “You feel like you’re not alone in the process,” Xia said. “Because sometimes when you’re alone in your room, and you’re writing your essay, you’re like ‘Oh, college apps.’ It’s so scary. You just kind of feel alone, but when everyone around you on the Tumblr community, is all focused on that too, you’re just like ‘Oh, we’re applying to the same school, and we’re looking for the same things. So, we can hope and dream together.’”