My little sister is applying to colleges now, and as the big sister, I am along for the ride by default of biology. She’ll be going for accounting/business school and hopefully making the big bucks before I can see my first real paycheck again. Both of us fulfilling the average Asian dream- becoming 1) doctor and 2) something with business; if only we had a brother, he’d probably be the lawyer.
I was an expensive child. My sister complains I went to NYU, and now I go to medical school; that’s not a stroll through the forest to grandmother’s house. Now, she feels Ivy Leagues and private universities, what she terms ‘brand name schools,’ are out of the question because tuition keeps hiking. Though her grades are strong and I set an auspicious impression for her with my old teachers, she still feels inadequate for good schools. She seems to feel, her dream schools are just dreams, fleeting and far away.
Take NYU’s Stern School of Business. It’s nearly pan-Asian, it’s NYU, it’s Manhattan, and it’s illustrious. I have friends who studied economics or attended Stern. You get pampered with good food and networking events. I’ve even studied at the Stern school, and it’s beautiful after a year of renovations. Plus, there is a 5-year combined BA/MA program at Stern for accounting, and she has the opportunity to combine majors, say finance. She can study unique languages exclusively offered at NYU (ahem, Korean) and have a good time like I did. Parfait!… Except, she feels her previously pre-med sister took that away and did not take all the opportunities offered at NYU that she would like, because my parents also cannot afford to pay for 8 years of NYU education, one of the most expensive universities in the nation (#2 ?).
For now, she’s accepted to Niagara University, SUNY Albany, and College of St. Rose. I asked, “What? You have so much potential… but huh?” Okay, SUNY Albany apparently has a great accounting program and it’ll be state tuition. I told her “No! It was the #1 party school a few years back, I refuse to say my sister is going to a party school.” College of St. Rose had free application fee, so it was just a ride. And Niagara U, it’s by freezing cold Buffalo, but she wants to have a chance working in Toronto, Canada. Plus, there’s a 5-year BA/MA program that she got into; it’ll be a cramped curriculum, but she can finish school more quickly and probably go to Canada. In the meantime, she’s waiting on Northeastern and USD in California, competitive schools I pray she can get in and receive significant scholarships for her hard work.
I look back on my college application process, I should have expanded. Instead, I was stuck on Cornell, and a few Ivy Leagues (Harvard, UPenn). Other schools I applied were Johns Hopkins, NYU, University of Michigan, and Binghamton. Rejection sucked; I wanted to cry when I read the online rejection letter from Cornell. It also sucked when I got rejected by Harvard twice, first time was Early Action and second time was Regular. Who gets rejected twice?
How about, Who gets rejected twice, TWICE?
Yes, I’m raising my hands now because the lucky goose I am, it happened to me. It happened with medical school next round of applications. I applied NYU Early Decision. I had the competitive GPA, but I bombed my MCATs first time around. Even when I improved and entered the regular applicant pool, NYU still did not want me and wrote a general rejection message on the webpage. I thought working at the medical center for 2 years as a volunteer and research assistant gave me a special connection to the school, maybe like a fistula. I wondered if my picture in a feature story on patient-centered care in the medical center’s newsletter wound up on the admissions table next to roasting coffee. I hoped I made some impression, but clearly that failed.