Getting Into the University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia,PA: Harriet Beecher Stowe once said, “Every human being has some handle bywhich he may be lifted, some groove in which he was meant to run; and the greatwork of life, as far as our relations with each other are concerned, is to lifteach one by his own proper handle, and run each one in his own propergroove.”

My parents truly understand this quote. My whole life theyhave striven to shape me into a moral, intelligent and capable human being. Atthe same time, though, they have allowed me to carve my own groove. With theiramazing support, my family continually picked me up and set me back on the rightcourse. While they supported me in all my endeavors, none matched their help formy college decision.

Neither my father’s nor my mother’s parents couldafford to send them to college, so they worked hard and took out loans. Accordingto my dad, college will be the best years of my life. My parents have always toldme I could do whatever I wanted, and not to worry about money. Their theory wasthat if I go to a prestigious university, I could expect to get a good job tohelp pay off loans. I greatly value my parents’ belief in me; they know I do wellin school and in my activities and felt confident I’d qualify for admission toany university.

Despite this remarkable support, I had no aspirations formany years. Junior year, however, I realized college provided the opportunity toseize my future with both hands. I dreamed about living in New York City and sawcollege as my chance to make this a reality. I shared this with my parents andinstead of telling me how foolish I sounded, they took me seriously. If I trulywanted to attend college in New York, I needed to check out schoolsfirsthand.

One of my best friends, Jessica, cherished similar dreams, andshe and her mom traveled to the Big Apple with us. I visited three universitiesas well as many tourist attractions, opening my eyes, preparing me for going awayto college and giving me examples with which to compare otherschools.

This fall I traveled to Philadelphia with my parents for aconference. Little did I know what awaited me in the “City of BrotherlyLove.” At every event we attended adults blitzed me with one question:”Where are you going to college?” Each time I explained my uncertaintyand the possibilities.

Many mentioned the nearby University ofPennsylvania and its wonderful campus. With minimum interest, my mom and Iplanned a visit on our last day in the city. That day changed my life. Thebeautiful campus with its Gothic architecture took my breath away. A member ofthe Ivy League, UPenn intrigued me.

When I told my parents I wanted to goto UPenn, they said, “If that’s what you want, go for it.”

Withthe Early Decision application deadline only a month away, I moved quickly. Iasked my counselor and teachers for forms, my transcript and recommendations. Myparents bent over backwards to complete the financial aid forms and helped me inevery possible way.

The day arrived when I could access my admissiondecision online. With my parents in the room (and the video camera rolling), Ityped in my password and hit “Enter.” Upon reading the first word -“Congratulations” – my jaw dropped.

My dad patted me on the backand said, “You didn’t have any doubt, did you?”

My mom and Ihugged and cried as the surreal feeling of a dream coming true overwhelmedme.

I owe the realization of this dream to my parents, since I know manyparents who force their children to stay in the state, stifling their dreamsrather than encouraging them. My parents dared me to dream. They cared only aboutmy happiness and blessed me immeasurably. For their love and generosity I willforever feel grateful. While I know how difficult our separation next fall willbe, my parents love me enough to let me go. As a result, I will remain theirdevoted daughter for the rest of my life.

Reviewed in 2003