This is the third of three blogs featuring current college students who participated in American College Application Campaign events. This blog features Isabella Macias, a first-year student at University of Florida and 2020 graduate of Braden River High School in Bradenton, Fla.

Meet Isabella Macias. She describes herself as an extremely ambitious person. “As soon as I have a goal in mind, I always go for it. That includes going to college,” she said in our interview.

Isabella carefully considered her options, not just when choosing to attend the University of Florida (UF), but also deciding whether or not she would live on campus her first semester. She did, after all, start her college career in the midst of a global pandemic.

After much thought and consultation with her parents, Isabella decided to make the move to Gainesville last fall to study astrophysics and minor in Latin American studies. She quickly became good friends with her roommates and was still able to meet with people on campus, albeit socially distant and masked. It wasn’t quite what she had hoped for when she applied to college, but aside from the food being “a little different from home,” she said it’s working.

During the fall 2020 semester, UF students took all their classes remotely, and for Isabella, that also meant her physics lab would be completed remotely. She received a kit with all the required equipment, set the labs up herself, and recorded her data in the provided toolkit. She said it was sometimes difficult without lab partners, but everyone was able to make the best of the situation. Classmates communicated more frequently on message boards, which helped. Her organizational skills also made it easier. Isabella uses a planner that “is organized so perfectly” it keeps her on top of everything. Those organizational skills are nothing new. She made great use of them during the college application process and suggests future college students do as well.

Isabella has another piece of advice for younger students: find a mentor, or two! When given the opportunity to apply for a mentoring program at UF, she immediately accepted. She was paired with a science librarian on campus who has helped her become acclimated to college life. Isabella acknowledges she isn’t sure other students are so fortunate, but she urges everyone who can to have a mentor. She’s had a few mentors throughout her life, including one who supported her through her college applications.

Having a support system through the college application process can be critical. Isabella’s alma mater, Braden River High School in Bradenton, Fla., was one of more than 7,000 high schools across the country that hosted application completion events as part of the 2019 American College Application Campaign. Participating in her state’s college application campaign, Apply Yourself Florida, provided Isabella and her classmates dedicated time and space to apply to college with guidance from mentors and her school counselor close by.

Hear more of Isabella’s story in her own words.