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Poison Ivy


Alissa Piccione

One more click of the mouse and my future would be revealed to me. I waited with heightened anticipation for the website to load. It seemed like it took forever, and, well, it felt that way because it really did, almost two hours to be exact. I guess there were thousands of other students trying to access the site who were eager to learn where they might be spending the next four years of their lives. Finally, the decision came up on the screen. My eyes frantically scanned the letter, searching for words like "accept" or "regret" or "denied", but I didn't discover any of those. For further clarification, I began to read the letter verbatim: Dear Alissa Kim Piccione.... Once I hit the line that read "We will review your application again in the spring," I knew that I had been deferred from Cornell.

I was upset, to say the least. However, I wasn't upset because I was counting on getting in. I knew it was a reach for me and that I probably wouldn't get accepted. The fact that I didn't get a straight answer, though, was frustrating to me. We are beings who desire instant gratification, right or wrong, black or white, paper or plastic, etc.

The whole college process is ridiculous, if you really think about it. I feel like I'm on a reality TV show, like Survivor. Your meals have antennae and fall under the phylum "insecta"; you neglect personal hygiene and use sand as exfoliate; you are trapped on an island with a bunch of strangers who would steal, fight and kill to win. But just when you think victory is within your grasp, Richard puts "the curse of Montezuma" on your canned beans, causing you to falter in the final competition and get deferred, err... I mean voted off the island. You went through all that unpleasantness only to lose in the final round.

It did bother me that I'd have to wait until April to find out that more than likely I had been voted off Cornell Island, but there was something more than that eating at me. The day before I received Cornell's decision, I had been accepted to the University of Michigan, a highly ranked university. Up until I had heard that I had been deferred from Cornell, I was very happy with my acceptance.

I tried to figure out why I was so peeved by my deferral. I decided to compare the two schools, and see why I wanted one more than the other. Both schools had their advantages, but after a while, I began to see why this little cheerleader inside my brain kept yelling "C-O-R-N-E-L-L.". Ivy. That one little word I think made all the difference to me. Shakespeare once wrote, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet." But what did he know; he was talking about roses, not Ivy. I didn't really know why attending an Ivy League school was so important to me. I wasn't even sure what a school had to do to be in the Ivy League.

I decided to hop on the internet and do some research. Apparently, the term "Ivy League" was first coined by Caswell Adams of the New York Tribune in 1937. Athletic directors wanted to form an eastern football league so in 1945 the first "Ivy Group Agreement", was signed. It affirmed the observance at the eight institutions of common practices in academic standards, eligibility requirements, and administration of financial aid for athletes. In February 1954, , the Ivy Group Agreement was reissued to extend its philosophical jurisdiction to all sports. The basic intent of the original Ivy agreement was' to improve and foster intercollegiate athletics while keeping the emphasis on such competition in harmony with the educational purpose of the institutions."

In addition, I found out some interesting statistics. The acceptance rates for Ivy League schools range from 10 to 31 percent, which are relatively low. Also, 83 to 95 percent of all students that attend an Ivy League school graduate in the top 10 percent of their high school class. Duke, which is not an Ivy League school, is ranked higher than some Ivy League members. I guess they are pretty "green" about it.

After processing the Ivy facts that I learned, my itch was practically cured. Yes, the eight schools that make up the Ivy league are excellent, in fact, they are some of the best schools in the country and if I got into one, I'd be there in a heartbeat. But for now, I'm not going to let my non-Ivy status bother me. I am proud of my accomplishments and if I work hard, I will accomplish what I want no matter what school I decide to go to.

During my Cornell interview I said to the interviewer, "I assume you loved Cornell?" after he asked me if I had any questions. I expected him to say how great the school was since he had been doing that for the last half hour but then, after pondering the question for a moment he said, "I loved my college experience and, although I can't be certain, I think I would have loved it all the same, even if it wasn't at Cornell. A college is only what you make of it." Well, the people that attend Ivy League schools must be smart because that was the best piece of advice I received through this emotional and intellectual triathlon, better known as applying to college.

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