Thoughts on leaving South Gate for Harvard.
This past summer, when it came to colleges, I was utterly lost. I received many mailings from different colleges representing the best of this nation and each one completely different. There were small liberal arts colleges, large public universities, private schools that enrolled less then twelve percent of applicants, and colleges that offered a Bachelor’s Degree in two years. Resolved to sift through the heap of mail I received from colleges and create a list, I sat down one day and went through all the letters I had received.
A few hours later, I had created a list of twenty colleges that I would look further into; only six were in California, whereas the rest were in the East Coast. The East Coast intrigued me; having never been there, I wanted to know how it felt to live in an area completely different from the familiar. I felt that I had a slight chance of being accepted, but that did not stop me from applying; I knew that if I did not apply to those colleges, I would forever regret not applying and wonder how my life would be different had I attended an East Coast college.
The college admissions process is hectic, more so for those who are Peer Counselors, who not only worry about their own application, but also help other students with their application questions. It was easy for me to forget about my own deadlines and required documentation because I was very involved with other’s applications. At times, I found myself wondering what I was doing to strengthen my UC application and the applications of others, when it hit me that I had not decided on which East Coast colleges I would submit applications. I cut my list down from twenty to eleven through very subjective ways that I recommend no one else follow.
Once I had decided, it became easy for me to apply, write essays, and ask for letters of recommendation because I no longer had to worry about which applications to complete. I applied with far-fetched visions of attending a top East Coast college, not really looking into a future at an East Coast college. While many felt anxiety, I felt indifferent because I did not believe I was qualified enough to be offered admission by the nation’s top research and liberal arts colleges, including Yale University, Stanford University, Harvard University, Princeton University, and Amherst College.
I was wrong.
I received an acceptance letter from Stanford University on February 1st, two months before the university was to release admission decisions; I later found out that only a very small percentage of regular decision applicants are offered early admission by a university. I was gung-ho about attending Stanford University for two months until I received word from the East Coast colleges that I had been accepted and they were inviting me to visit their schools. This shocked me because not only did the top universities of the nation accept me, but because they were trying to sway me to attend their university. I cut down the list of colleges from eleven to five, and then, down to three: Yale University, Stanford University, and Harvard University.
Visiting these three colleges was a great experience because not only did I meet great people and saw new parts of the nation, but also I was able to experience the universities. Yale University surprised me and won me over, whereas Stanford University felt too familiar. I was at both universities for three days, while I was at Harvard University for a total of 28 hours; those 28 hours made me realize that Harvard University was the best place for me. Its location in an urban area, proximity to an airport, and opportunities for someone who wants to study government and history made Harvard University the most suited place for me.
I do feel a sense of remorse for leaving my family, my friends, and the city of South Gate behind to study, but it is best for me to leave everything behind and start fresh in a place where I know few. To really grow as a person in the next four years, I need to be thrust into a place completely unknown and learn to fend for myself; all my life others have sheltered me. Though it will be hard for me to be in such a position, I welcome the challenge and hope to excel at Harvard University.
A South Gate High School alumnus is graduating from Harvard University this year and another alumnus is to graduate in 2009; I hope that in the next four years, more students from South Gate High School decide to attend a college in the East Coast. If anyone does, I will gladly talk to him or her about leaving California for college and whatever is on their mind about college.
Though I do not graduate until mid-June and do not leave South Gate for Cambridge, Massachusetts, until early September, it is with this note that I bid farewell to South Gate High School, the city of South Gate, and my friends, some whom I met in high school, some whom I have known since the first day of middle school, and the small number whom I have had the fortune of knowing since elementary school.
Thank you for everything.