Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Kiana Ward -- El Cerrito High School '09

Last summer I attended Brown University's summer program through the Ivy League Connection. Before leaving, my heart was set on UCLA. Although I saw what a great opportunity this trip was and was excited to be taught by a real Ivy League professor, I really only considered it as something that I could put on my application to help me get into UCLA.

When I first arrived, the campus was nice and the people were fine but it wasn't "love at first sight." It was exactly how I saw it on the school's website; a place with elegant old buildings that didn't really mean anything to me. But as time progressed and I got to know the other students and I got to explore the campus, I began to love it and the environment more and more. Before I knew it, it was time to leave. My point is, although some students may be able to look at a college website and instantly fall in love, most people need to experience something firsthand to really make a connection with it. And that was what the Ivy League Connection did for me. I come from a single parent household and qualify for the free lunch program. Money is spent carefully in my family and Ivy League summer camps are definitely not in our budget.

I applied to Brown University in the beginning of this year, early decision. Although early decision is binding, I knew that I was making the right choice after having spent time there. I was able to ask Professor Takesue to write me a letter of recommendation and wrote an essay about my interest in the Watson Institute for International Relations (a program that I would have been unaware of if I hadn't been taking my classes in that building last summer). I was accepted in December and I can't say that I didn't cry a little bit when I found out. Never had I thought that I could ever get into an Ivy League school and now, I will be attending Brown next Fall.

I understand the arguments against the ILC and I even wondered about them myself last summer. I had my doubts about the program; why should they spend so much money to send me to a prestigious summer camp on the East coast when all I really wanted to do was to go to UCLA? But now I see why the ILC is such a priceless program. It may cost a lot to send students to Ivy League camps but it is a worthwhile investment. I will get a spectacular education and then come back to my hometown and help students like me get into amazing schools. And they say that it is not just the education that is so important at a school like Brown, it is the connections and networking that you can do while you are there. Who's to say that I won't be able to spread the word about the ILC to other students while I'm at Brown and have other programs just like it spring up across the country. It is a cycle that cannot go on without the ILC.

My final point is that although it is virtually impossible that every student that goes through the ILC will get into an Ivy League, why isn't it worth it to still send them to these camps? Isn't the whole point of this program to get us great educations and aren't the UC's ranked as some of the top schools in the nation? Being able to write that you were chosen to be sent on an all-expenses paid trip to an Ivy League university stands out on a UC application. I think the fact that this program will help all of us get into a top UC much more easily is reason enough to keep this program going.

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