Sunday, April 04, 2004

Advice to a College Senior

First off, congratulations on getting admitted to a University of California campus. Only the top 10% of high school graduates earn that distinction. The way in which the state of California designed the state schools, those who have a higher chance of continuing to advanced degrees like a master degree or a doctorate in philosophy generally attend the UC campuses.

However, you really wanted to get into UCLA and not UC Davis. What to do? What to do? I already have spoken to you about this before. The students who usually get into Berkeley or UCLA are those who want that school so badly that they will do anything to get into the school. That means special projects, going the extra mile in extra-curricular activities, and playing sports. And yes, appealing a rejection letter to UCLA is part of that taste in your mouth.

If your pride does not allow you to write an appeal and plan a course of action to show just how much you want UCLA, then the school might just be right in rejecting your application. Every applicant is smart, has the extra-curricular activities and is distinguished. The only difference among students is what resides in their heart.

"But what about family? What about my sister? What about my parents?" you ask. As with anything else, this decision must be based on what you yourself want not only at this time point in your life, but also in the future, say twenty years from now. What is your gut instinct telling you to do? Do you belong in UCLA or in Davis? Are you going to be happy staying at home? Are you going to be happy in Davis? Or, do you know that you belong to UCLA?

The exceptional students do not let anything hamper them from attaining their desires. This is just another challenge thrown your way. I personally scoff when people say that their family can not afford college. This is America. If you want it bad enough you will find a way. It's time to grow up.

Ten or twenty years from now, your parents will be in the grave. Your siblings will be married with their families. Where will you be? Will you be regretting your choice in school? The ones who do well in life are the ones who sought and chased after their dreams. In life, achievable dreams come so rarely. Choosing your college is one of them. Do not just think about the now. Think about yourself in the future.

Why do I personally care about your situation? Because I have seen talented Filipinos SETTLE for less than what they are worth because of FEAR. If I stand by and let talented people settle, pretty soon, the Filipino community will be full of people who settled. Life is not about settling. Life is about living.

Twenty years ago, my father was dying of leukemia. I had to choose a college. I was already accepted into UCLA. But, Berkeley came calling to me. Berkeley offered scholarships. Going to Berkeley would mean leaving my mother and family. I would have to be alone. In my gut, I knew I had to go to Berkeley. Seeing Berkeley for the first time made me wince, because it was not as pretty as UCLA. In the end though, I would not have changed anything in my experience. Berkeley made me who I am. Berkeley allowed me to excel. Berkeley challenged me to find who I am. In exchange for that privilege, I had to leave my family. But you know what? I learned to forge a mature and loving relationship with them. I appreciated them more after knowing what they sacrificed for me. Leaving made me find my love for my family.

I look at you and I know that UCLA will bring out the best in you. That is of course if you desire UCLA enough.

No comments: