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Saturday, March 08, 2014

How I picked Vanderbilt

Was looking at my Instagram account which just has a few photos (for now) when I thought about the picture I posted of my certificate from Duke University for going to their program called TIP. And the thing is I was trying to find something to put on Instagram, saw that hanging on the wall and figured it would be a way to preserve it.

And also now I'm seeing how to link to an Instagram photo in my blog so trying something out here. Would be nice if the photo would pull into the blog but I don't know if that can be done so just have the link for now above.

But along with that thought I'd explain why despite having very much enjoyed my times at Duke with TIP, and dreaming for years about going there as a student I didn't even apply later but thankfully at least applied to Vanderbilt University where I got accepted and from which I graduated.

I grew up in the South and did ok I think as a black kid trying to figure out how the world worked and working hard to better my life and get that education thing people were often saying is important. But I was from a lower middle class family and stuck making a lot of decisions myself primarily because my parents were overwhelmed. How were they supposed to know any of this stuff?

It was up to me to figure it out, and with my limited knowledge of things I was often intimidated. And oddly enough, knowing more about Duke University pushed me away from the school as the more I read about them the less confident I was that I would get accepted to that school! And even now since I never applied I don't know.

But I should add that when I was 17 looking at colleges I was lucky enough to have a high enough SAT that a blizzard of schools sent mail to me, including one of the Ivy Leagues and I was just this intimidated teenager saying to myself, no way.

I had no precedent for the experience. And found it hard to see myself as a choice of any of those big names at those important places.

I was just a kid from the rural South trying to figure out how to try and do ok in this life.

And along with the flurry of mail that took a rural Georgia kid by surprise as I tried to manage myself through these decisions completely out of my family's experience there was one from Vanderbilt University.

Thankfully, I had never heard of them. Which is kind of funny as Vanderbilt is one of the best known colleges in the South but I didn't know that at the time.

And oddly enough, as one of those Southern things, I never really thought of Tennessee as the South as I'm from Georgia which I know is the South, but those more Northern states I kind of think of as quasi-South, which I guess is sort of silly.

But somehow the thing that stood out for me was the name. And it's like, I'm wondering to myself, do the Vanderbilts have a school? I had heard of the Vanderbilt family. Turns out of course that the school has received varying attention from the Vanderbilt family, including an important grant from the original famous Cornelius Vanderbilt himself who was often called the Commodore.

And it's like one of those random things as I applied to Vanderbilt University which was the only school I tried.

I don't even remember if Duke sent me anything which may mean I blocked it out.

Thank God I did get accepted by Vanderbilt University and as an adult who has learned a lot more I am so very grateful that my lack of knowledge when a teenager of the best approach to getting into a decent college did not screw up my future.

I was very lucky. And turns out I picked a great school which thankfully did accept me, so it worked out regardless of how.

Ironically I also was recruited after I applied to Vanderbilt by University of Tennessee which felt really good and I do wonder why schools don't recognize that kids from low income families may just not know enough, so it does help to actually be recruited even if you're not a sports person. Why recruit sports folks directly and pay less attention to academic potential? Or do they? And I was just not interesting enough for direct contact for anyone but University of Tennessee?

I think especially for students like myself the personal touch makes a world of difference. Just to know that certain schools wanted me shifted how I looked at myself as before I felt like a reject.

In any event so now I'm a big fan of Tennessee as kind of a second state to my home state of Georgia. Where also I am a big fan of California, so I have 3 main states of which I'm a fan. My Big 3.

And Nashville is a very important city to me, and I find I cheer University of Tennessee as long as they're not playing Vanderbilt, of course.

Interesting how certain choices greatly shape your life and likes.
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