What if we told you that one teen from Atlanta, Georgia, got over 50 college acceptances and received more than $1.3 million in scholarships? One exceptional teen named Daya Brown accomplished just that, turning heads across the nation.
Starting early and building unique applications are two ways Brown says helped her stand out, but there is much more to this incredible success story. Let’s take a look at how this ambitious teen achieved such success in her college application process.
Brown attributes her motivation to two main factors: her supportive family and her own personal drive. She credits her mother as being an unwavering source of support throughout the entire process, helping Brown research colleges and universities as well as providing emotional support along the way. Brown also says her father has been a vital source of support, helping her prepare for college admissions tests and interviews.
Brown says she started the process in 2020 during her sophomore year at Westlake High School in Atlanta while quarantined at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Brown, then 15, did her research and decided on 70 universities she would like to attend after graduating from high school in May 2023.
By her senior year, at only 17 years old, Brown had over 50 college and university acceptance letters and over 1 million in scholarship funding.
“It felt great because I put in a lot of hard work,” Brown stated. “I’m really grateful to be at a stage where I did whatever I had to do to take the next step in life.”
Brown's academic journey during the pandemic was an incredible example of how applying yourself can be truly rewarding. Her strategy for success was twofold: start early and make her applications unique. Starting early gave her ample time to research schools, ask for letters of recommendation, and fill out the paperwork carefully and thoughtfully.
Brown says that making her applications unique was crucial to stand out. She wrote highly personal essays showcasing her creativity and thoughtfulness. In addition, she also tailored each essay to the requirements of each school, emphasizing the qualities they look for in potential students.
Brown also took advantage of every scholarship opportunity by writing essays tailored specifically for those awards. She put extra thought into these essays since they are often so competitively reviewed that even minor errors will disqualify a student.
From an early age, Brown showed an unwavering commitment to hard work as student council president for her entire high school career. She also worked as a teen journalist and editor for VOX ATL, a local Atlanta publication written by teens for teens.
Brown later started her own production company, Elom & Co. Productions, based in Atlanta for emerging creators, and started a podcast to help other college-aged kids stay informed called The Scholar Social.
"The Scholar Social is a podcast to kind of teach teenagers what is going on in the world, but in a creative way," she said. "I think simple conversations is our way to showcase our voice in this generation."
Brown is featured in several publications, including the Washington Post and Good Morning America. Many news outlets have used her story to highlight the importance of early preparation and planning for college success.
Brown told Good Morning America she plans to attend Duke University in the fall of 2023. While not everyone may receive quite as many acceptances as Daya did (or quite as much scholarship money or financial aid), following similar strategies like starting early on your applications and making them stand out through personalization are still critical steps towards helping you achieve success in your college application process. Best of luck!