Ivy Success Diary: From Nowhere to New Haven
By Dave Berry
For those of you who may think that your family situation, where you live, or who you are severely limits your ability to get into an Ivy League or other so-called elite school, take heart. Here are some annotated excerpts from the email messages of "Robert" (not his real name), from a small, backwater town in rural Wisconsin. He came to me in "desperate" (his words) need of college advice. We met by email and, although he did send me his picture, we never met in person or even spoke on the phone.
Our relative anonymity, however, didn't keep us from developing a rewarding relationship that carried Robert from a jumbled and confused high school situation to a list of college acceptances that culminated with his April acceptance to Yale, after a grueling, almost four-month campaign to overturn his mid-December deferral.
Thus, you can see here, in Robert's own words, the advantages of having a resource like College Confidential to guide you through the admissions process.
- My parents are divorced. My dad's family has completely renounced my connection to the family based on racial reasons. I want to leave this narrow-minded atmosphere. I have a lot more to say, but this letter is dragging on, so I'll talk to you later. Thanks for providing the services you do. Without them, I would be completely lost.
Robert's father, living far away from him, was fully uncooperative in Robert's college admission and financial aid process. He refused to sign any of Robert's financial aid forms and caused Robert and his mother a lot of unnecessary anguish.
- Right now, my life is a mix of ups and downs. When I talk to you, I'm able to break away from my life and see the outside world a little. You're doing a lot more than helping me get into college--You're giving me hope. I don't tell you enough, thanks.
Robert's issue was essentially one of low self-esteem. Because of his family's situation and some problems he was having with his school counselor, who didn't think anyone, let alone Robert, should be applying to those big, fancy, expensive schools "back East," Robert believed that his dream of an Ivy League education was out of reach.
- You are a complete life-saver. You have to be proud of what you do and what you can do. Whether I end up at Harvard, Cornell, or UW-Madison, it's been worth it all the way. Now I CAN relax. Whew.
His relieved tone here reflects as much his knowledge that his college process was indeed under control as it does his new confidence that regardless of where he went, he would get a great education.
- I got in! My mom called me with the good news. I can relax now. It feels good. I think you had a good idea that I'd get into Chicago.
The first of Robert's fat envelopes begin to arrive. I always thought that because of Robert's depth and deep intellectual and philosophical bent, the University of Chicago would be a great match for him.
- It hit me hard. Columbia! I got in!
After another great day at the mailbox, Robert begins to see the reality of his potential. After a confused and frustrating beginning, his goals begin to materialize. He's two-for-two: an Ivy and Chicago-not a bad way to welcome spring.
- I can't express my happiness. So many thoughts are whirling in my head.
The Big One: Yale. Can you say, Bulldog? This night, the Whiffenpoofs sang in Wisconsin. Robert's life-long goal of becoming an Ivy Leaguer finally came true.
It's amazing what a little self-confidence and positive self-image can do for someone. Thus, consider this great and happy ending for Robert.
Take heed, all of you who may be feeling low and unworthy. There may be a great and happy ending to your college admissions story lurking inside you. You'll never know unless you try!