For 17-year-old high school senior Brenyya Connor, dozens of college acceptance letters have poured in since the Florida native first began applying to colleges last summer.
One by one, in her interview with Atlanta Black Star, the soon-to-be first-generation college student rattled off the names of schools that have offered her admission.
“I got into FAMU, Howard, Clark Atlanta, North Carolina, Iowa State, University of Iowa, North Carolina Central University, Alabama A&M University,” shared Connor, who currently attends Miami Northwestern Senior High School in Miami.
After submitting over 50 college applications, the ambitious student now has her pick of more than 50 colleges and universities to attend. It’s a list that includes: “…Alabama State University, Columbus State University, University of South Florida, University of North Florida, and I recently got into Clemson. I also got into Claflin University,” she said.
Her college journey hasn’t even started, but she’s already taking her higher education to extraordinary heights. An astonishing 52 schools have accepted the teen. Connor, who is the youngest of three siblings, will be the first in her immediate family to go to college.
The in-demand teen says she didn’t initially plan on applying to over 50 colleges. “I just kept adding to the list and then once the list got higher, I’m like, ‘Why not just get 50?’ ” she said.
Her impressive weighted and unweighted grade point averages likely helped her get into every college to which she applied. “My unweighted is, I think, a 3.87, and my weighted is a 4.76,” Connor said.
Unweighted GPAs are measured on a scale of zero to a 4.0, while weighted GPAs consider both the grade and the difficulty level of the course.
Connor shared that along with reaching over 50 college acceptances, she received at least 17 scholarship offers with some colleges offering her a full ride. When she shared her life update on Twitter, the tweet received over 600,000 likes.
“So many people said I’m inspiring them, so it made me feel great about what I did,” she said.
Connor’s achievement caught the attention of celebrities, including one of the world’s most iconic models, she said. “Naomi Campbell posted me and she texted me, and Waka Flocka texted me also, and told me that he’s proud of me.”
But not everyone was happy with the teen confidently sharing her achievement with the world.
“People were saying that this is an ego move and that I was trying to boost my self-confidence,” Connor revealed. “But I don’t think people realize, like, how much confidence do you have to have to sit there and apply to 50 schools and not know whether or not you’re going to get declined or accepted?”
One person tweeted, “The point is, who cares.” Another person tweeted, “Is that suppose to be an achievement?”
Despite the naysayers, Connor said family and friends lifted her up throughout the entire journey. “They congratulated me after each one. They’re the reason why I kept going; no one discouraged me, no one said that I was doing too much or anything like that,” Connor said. “They just kept pushing me to keep going.”
With help of two cell phone apps, the Common app and the Common Black app, Connor said she amazingly didn’t pay any college application fees. The apps also sped up the process, helping her apply to 20 schools in less than an hour.
“You have the chance to put whether you qualify for a fee, so you have to meet a certain standard, and I met the standards,” Connor said, adding, “Because I took the SAT, I also had some more fee waivers.”
Of all the colleges that she’s applied to, Connor said she’s intentionally steered clear of Ivy League universities like Harvard and Yale, feeling that level of education might overwhelm her.
“Going somewhere that’s challenging but also not Ivy League-standard challenging will be more comfortable for me,” Connor shared about her ideal college experience. “I’ll still have that challenge, but I’ll still have the space to have fun, be me and be comfortable.”
When she does decide on a college, she plans to major in finance or business. She added that she’s leaning toward schools that offer extracurricular activities that interest her, like dance or softball.
For other teens submitting their college applications, Connor advised not to let the process stress you out.
“Literally all you’re doing is applying, putting information in and sending them the documents,” the teen said. “I feel like a lot of people are discouraged by that, but once it’s done, it’s done. Either you’re going to get accepted or you’re going to get declined, like, just do it.”
Connor also tells her peers not to feel obligated to attend Ivy League schools or a Historically Black college and University.
“Go to where you feel like the place is going to treat you right, have what you need and is going to give you some type of money,” she recommended. “Go where your heart is leading you.”
Connor has over 50 acceptance letters at her fingertips, but now comes the hard part. The teen faces the tough task of narrowing down her choices to one school.
She said she’s trying to make a top-eight list, and shared that two universities in her home state have made it into her top-three choices. She plans on starting college in the summer or fall.