DISCLAIMER: With the COVID-19 virus impacting our world, let’s educate ourselves, and others, on how to prevent this virus from spreading even further. Remember to wash your hands frequently, practice social-distancing, and pray, that we can leave this pandemic behind us.
This story begins on January 31st, 2019.
It’s a typical Thursday. Get to school on time for study hall. Then, eight periods of classes. After, attend a second study hall session, before a two-hour basketball practice.
This day was significant for two reasons. One, former Knick Kristaps Porzingis was traded to Dallas, for Dennis Smith Jr. and stale chips. As a diehard Knicks fan, I can never get over that.
The second reason was, I received my first college acceptance. In the two weeks prior to this day, I was feeling anxious. Others in my seniors class were getting multiple acceptances before I got my first.
I recall coming home from practice that day. Before going upstairs, I checked the mail. There laid a thick envelope, from Iona College.
A smile stretched across my face, as I had an idea of what the envelope contained. I then entered the elevator to get to my apartment.
As I walked inside my home, I placed my belongings in my room, and darted for the couch where my mom was sitting.
I began opening the envelope. The first piece of literature read “Congratulations on your acceptance to Iona.”
I stopped reading and embraced my mother in tears. The acceptance provided me relief.
Before I began my senior year, I contemplated even attending college. What proceeded was the lack of acceptances, which led me to doubt my college-readiness. This envelope from Iona validated everything I worked for. This would be the first of many.
The only question now was, would I be attending Iona College?
Let’s fast forward to April.
I don’t remember all the schools I applied to, but I was accepted to most of them. Schools like SUNY Morrisville, SUNY Purchase, and Lehman College admitted me. However, my mind was set on one college: St. Bonaventure University.
The main reason for my interest was one man: Adrian Wojnarowski, sports reporter, and NBA insider. I admired his consistency and yearned to work in his profession. St. Bonaventure was his alma mater, and I wanted to mimic his path to success.
I was surprised I even got accepted. My GPA was good, but Bonaventure was a reach school for me. Nonetheless, I got in, so I believed my destiny was to attend this school.
I acted as if I was already a student. Two weeks into April, I attended an accepted student’s dinner in New Rochelle. My family and I were the only people that showed up, but I had an encouraging conversation with the Director of Admissions. So, at dinner, I verbally committed to the school.
A week later, my family and I traveled to Bonaventure for an accepted student’s orientation, and tour of the school. It was my only visit during the college process.
But, to be honest, the school was underwhelming. It just wasn’t my style. Despite that, I ignored my concerns and began gearing into the mindset that, I would be attending St. Bonaventure.
It’s now the third week of April and National College Decision Day is slowly approaching. I’m back in school, in my fifth-period class: Participation in Government.
Today, our teacher (and college counselor) Mr. Harrison is discussing the different forms of government.
He usually would get off topic and begin talking about college-related issues: acceptances, financial aid, etc. It’s a class full of seniors, so he travels around, asking students which schools they got accepted to.
It’s my turn to speak. I answer him with a few random schools. I throw SUNY Oswego in the mix, and ended confidently, saying I might be attending St. Bonaventure.
After I finished, Mr. Harrison disregarded each school I said, except one. He asked if Oswego accepted me through the Educational Opportunity Program. I said yes. He congratulated me, then asked to speak with me following class.
Once the class concluded, we retreated to his office and spoke for a few minutes. He again asked where I wanted to attend school. I said St. Bonaventure. He acknowledged that it was a good school, but an expensive one.
He asked to see my financial aid award. I handed it to him. He took a glance and quickly said I couldn’t afford the tuition. If I attended, I’d be in serious debt.
I didn’t realize it then, but Mr. Harrison was right. I was unaware of how much my mother could afford my tuition. I was wondering why I hadn’t sent my deposit to the school yet.
My mom claimed to be on it, but in actuality, she was stalling. She couldn’t afford the tuition, but didn’t want to crush my dreams. Plus, St. Bonaventure didn’t offer me any support programs. Programs I was eligible for.
So I went back to the drawing board. The next day I provided Mr. Harrison with a full list of my acceptances. He targeted two schools: SUNY Plattsburgh, and Oswego. We compared the school’s financial aid awards.
There wasn’t one for Plattsburgh, as they were missing a document I had sent multiple them times.
So, we took a look at Oswego’s award letter. He said I would barely be paying a dime and highlighted the school’s strong journalism program. He believed it was the perfect environment for me.
Unfortunately, I didn’t want to attend Oswego, for no particular reason. They had sent me a lot of mail, which was annoying.
I was disappointed with my circumstances. However, Mr. Harrison stopped me from myself, and from making a terrible mistake. For that, I’m thankful.
It’s April 30th, twenty-four hours before Decision Day. I have no idea where I’ll attend school.
I’m home now, on the couch with my lovely mother. It’s getting late, but I refuse to rest without making a decision.
I start warming up to the idea of attending Oswego over the past three days. There were several pros: well-known academically, far from home, and affordable.
Since we never visited Oswego, I search for a virtual tour of the school on my phone. My mother and I began viewing the campus, and we like what we’re seeing.
Right then and there, I had enough information to finally make my decision. I would be continuing my education at SUNY Oswego.
A year later, despite a shortened freshman campaign, I’m proud to say that I made the right choice. Shortly after my commitment, I began connecting with several students and faculty at the school, including my friends Leeza, Sekou, and Tyty.
During my short time at the school, I’ve been blessed to meet some wonderful people. From my roommate to professors, to the EOP faculty, each person is genuine and has my best interest at heart.
I’ve found my footing at Oswego. It’s been a fruitful experience and I can’t wait to begin my sophomore year. So yeah, that’s my story.
Not everyone is as lucky as I. In a few days, many students won’t commit to the right school. Some will transfer following their freshman year. Others may drop out.
This pandemic doesn’t make things any easier. A number of my friends that are seniors have expressed the increased difficulty of the college process. Visiting schools, and providing documents are challenging now because of this lockdown.
I admire the resilience of the class of 2020. Despite these circumstances, many of them are still chugging along, working hard and committing to some amazing universities.
To conclude, congratulations to the Class of 2020! I wish you guys nothing but success as you embark on this exciting journey!
If you made it to the end, thank you so much for reading. Leave a comment if you enjoyed this piece. And please, share this with your friends!
*Special shoutout to Ezekial, Carlos, Jamal, Shamya, and Mr. Harrison
Originally posted April 29, 2020 on Medium. Edited May 23, 2020 on WordPress.)