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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
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
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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