Ireland Baldwin didn’t just get accepted to the college of her choice. She got accepted to eight.
Baldwin, a senior at Ardmore High School, applied to 11 schools total. In addition to being accepted at Columbia, the OU honors program, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Swarthmore, Case Western Reserve and Dartmouth she was also waitlisted at Yale.
“It just feels so surreal,”
Baldwin said. “I applied to 11 colleges expecting to only get accepted into a handful and then go from there. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would only get rejected by two.”
After deciding between her top three picks, Johns Hopkins, Dartmouth and Columbia, she officially signed to Columbia on Wednesday in the lobby of Ardmore High School.
“Columbia just demonstrated to me that they wanted me the most, and I thought I’d be the best fit there,” Baldwin said.
She said Columbia offered her the most in scholarships and grants, but also designated her as a member of the John W. Kluge Scholars Program.
“That comes with all of these benefits,” Baldwin said. “I get a grad student as a mentor, I get an opportunity to intern my freshman year, and all of these benefits I really couldn’t turn down.”
She plans to head to medical school after Columbia, and plans to study orthopedic surgery, though those plans might change.
“I wanted to go into surgery as a broader field, and then I got the chance to scrub in on surgeries with Dr. (Richard) Greisman here in Ardmore,” Baldwin said. “I just really became interested in it and decided that’s something I would love to do.”
Baldwin is also a valedictorian of her class, She said academic challenges are enjoyable to her, whether it’s AP history or AP calculus.
“I just love learning in general,” Baldwin said. “I just look at them as things to overcome and kind of have fun with.”  
She said for her, high school was about focusing her attention on her passions.
“It’s not necessarily about being a president of this or an officer on student council, it’s about really showing the universities that you’re doing something you thoroughly enjoy,” Baldwin said.
For Baldwin, that was visual art. She said she’s been drawing and painting for as long as she can remember and wrote her application essay about art and how it’s shaped her life.
“I think once they see you’re really and truly passionate about something and not just doing it to get brownie points, that’s when they’re really interested in you,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin said that advice extends to other students as well.
“Just focus on what you’re really interested in,” Baldwin said. “Don’t just do something because you think it would make you look good. If you’re really interested in the arts, don’t push yourself to math and science. The admissions officers will clearly be able to see that you’re just doing what you love as an individual. I was a cynic myself, but I applied and it worked.”