ANDERSON — Koral Wheeler, a senior at Anderson High School, will major in engineering when she starts college this fall at Columbia University.
She’s also interested in computers, machine learning, technology and video games. The New York City university, part of the Ivy League, offers courses in all those areas.
Wheeler received an abundance of scholarship emails and applied to as many schools as she could, including Purdue University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
But during her college search, she considered not applying to Columbia, which has an acceptance rate of 6%.
“I felt like maybe I didn’t have a chance, but my friends kind of pushed me to do it, and I’m obviously very glad I did,” she said. “It turned out well for me.”
Wheeler even opened her decision e-mail on the bus home from a basketball game, with her teammates cheering her on.
“I didn’t think I was going to get in, so I was just opening it on the bus to get it over with,” she said.
But once she saw the acceptance video playing on her screen, she started crying while her teammates were screaming in excitement.
While Wheeler intends to major in engineering during her time at Columbia, she didn’t always know that was what she wanted to do.
“I always had an interest in computers. I just never really considered it to be a career at first.”
However, after taking a number of computer and technology classes at AHS, she changed her mind. Wheeler’s teachers often talked about the great opportunities that come along with majoring in science, technology, engineering and math, which led Wheeler to decide on her major.
For now, Wheeler hasn’t decided 100% what she wants to do with engineering, though she would ideally stay in the computer realm.
“I kind of want to just explore more of the topics when I’m in college and see what really interests me.”
However, Wheeler loves video games, so she said a career in video games would be really cool to her.
Wheeler will be visiting Columbia’s campus in the spring and is looking forward to seeing the school’s library.
“I’m really into reading and everything,” she said, adding that she is excited to see campus in general. “It’s just a beautiful campus, so really just the architecture and everything, I’m really excited for that.”
At AHS, Wheeler is involved in extracurricular activities in addition to the Lady Tribe basketball team. She is treasurer for the math club and a member of National Honors Society and Senior Executive Council.
Wheeler has played basketball her whole high school career, though she does not intend to play in college.
“I really just want to focus on my studies.”
One extracurricular that Wheeler did not take part in at AHS was robotics, which she regrets.
“I just think robots are super cool and everything and I’m just really disappointed that I didn’t get involved with that.”
However, Wheeler is considering taking courses about machine learning at Columbia to make up for it.
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