Several months ago, I was an incredibly different person. I was only a couple months away from being a senior, which, to me, was the equivalent of being thrown into the wild. Also, if anyone was to ask me to name ten colleges on the east coast, I would fail miserably. The only colleges I really knew about were Harvard and Georgetown. I believe that almost every student in America knows Harvard University just because of the fact that it's Harvard, so I don't really consider this university as one considering any amount of research. The only reason I knew about Georgetown was because of legendary basketball player Patrick Ewing. When it came to naming Ivy League colleges, I was stumped. It's now July, five months since I was initially let into the Ivy League Connection. To say that my life has changed would be an understatement.
Growing up in the Bay Area, I was raised knowing about three colleges; U.C. Berkely, U.C.L.A. , and Stanford. That was pretty much it. Sure I knew about various U.C.s, but these were what I considered to be the core of California. Outside of these two, the only colleges I'd ever hear about were the ones on ESPN. There was obviously Duke and Kentucky, for example, the goliaths of college basketball, as well as Ohio State University and Florida State University, the big dogs of college football. I knew about Oregon because, being a cross country runner, Oregon was pretty much the holy mecca of collegiate running. Needless to say, my knowledge of colleges around the country was pretty limited.
With the Ivy League Connection, all that changed. When applications came around, we were immediately presented with seven different Ivy League schools, most of which I had either never heard of or known that it was an Ivy League school. When we began our trip to Cornell, the Cornell cohort and I were able to visit three prestigious schools in Emory University, Georgetown University, and University of Pennslyvania. Not only did I see what the campuses looked like, I was able to experience the feel of each individual college and evaluate it on my own terms. Granted, I cannot visit every college in the United States, but going on college tours for these three gave me an idea of what to look for when it came time to decide where my home for the next three years would be located.
There was also the matter giving me an idea of the high school to college transition. The previous two summers, I attended Contra Costa College. I gained college credit, but the class felt like an extension of something I'd see at the high school level. This class was something completely different. Here, nothing was given and everything was earned. I didn't have anyone holding me personally responsible for doing my work. It was only me, myself, and I. I had to make sure that before getting caught up in the hijinks of college, I was doing all the work I possibly could to ensure that I was prepared for what the Debate and Rhetoric course had to offer. Because of that hard work, not only was I was able to secure a solid A in the class, but I learned what it would be like to be thrown into a college class and have to work from the jump.
Without this program, I have no idea what the past few months would look like. I wouldn't have met some wonderful people, whether it be through the Ivy League Connection or through the Cornell program. I wouldn't have gotten a taste of the college application process. I certainly wouldn't know what a college class felt like. And, the most important aspect of all, I wouldn't know what it meant to grow up. And being a rising senior, that was the biggest lesson I needed. This might be the first time I directly say it, but it certainly won't be the last: Thank you Ivy League Connection.