Sunday, July 17, 2011

From Nick Shebek's Parents

From the parents of Nick Shebek:

To me, Ivy League Connection is achieving its objective in expanding the horizons of talented students in WCCUSD. Living in California these last 30 years, literally in Berkeley’s backyard, tends to make families and students complacent about college opportunities. With the state’s gridlock over increasing taxes versus cutting expenditures, California’s wonderful public colleges and universities are losing their luster. Stanford admission rates can intimidate the best and brightest, and the concept of four years with brutal winters can discourage the more adventurous WCCUSD students.

Having the opportunity to experience college life at an Ivy League campus is a life-changing event. Visiting universities like Northwestern en route to Ithaca made Nick appreciative of the appeal of being close to a metropolitan area and impressed by a quarter schedule that is so well suited to students still exploring their focus of study. After his brief visit at Northwestern, Nick wondered if college in a rural area would satisfy him. With three weeks at Cornell, he realized that campus life itself is rich and fulfilling.
The meals with admissions officers at the various colleges provided Nick with a perspective not available to students whose views are limited to an admissions presentation, or experiencing a tour given by an enthusiastic undergrad. It is the goal of admissions officers to attract students that will add to their university programs and environment, and to do it as efficiently as possible.  Identifying student groups that are well prepared to succeed at their school is a way to achieve that efficiency. Introducing top-rated universities to Ivy League Connection students makes admission officers understand the rigorous expectations of the program. Consequently, ILC alumni should over time, have higher admission rates to those universities. Moreover, those universities will want these talented students to consider their programs, so the dinners provide an opportunity for the admissions officers to understand our individual students’ concerns, and address them in an informal setting. With both Cornell and Northwestern, the admissions staff highlighted the areas where their programs suited Nick’s interests, skills and concerns.

People might not realize that the selection process for participation in ILC builds skills as well. The essay requirement for the ILC helped lay the foundation of what would lie ahead in their Cornell class. The formal interview assessed Nick’s ability to think on his feet, a skill that would be needed to be an efficient contributor to his discussion group. Don Gosney did a thorough job in making sure that students would be technologically and practically prepared. We got to observe Nick’s writing skill improve through his blogging; and appreciated knowing what he and his cohorts were going through. We came to understand that blogging and sleep were higher priority than checking in with us, and glad that Nick was making reasonable decisions about how to manage his time. For a parent, seeing a blog about a headache or stress elevated your concern; you were proud your student was taking it seriously and later impressed to know he was working through the stress on his own.
Nick would have never considered applying to Northwestern before his ILC summer, but now it is a university with tremendous and potentially realistic appeal.  Cornell sounds even better than before. We are so appreciative to the Ivy League Connection donors, the volunteers who interviewed, photographed and prepared the students, the teachers and counselors who encouraged Nick, the board members who had the vision and dedication to create and support the program, the district staff that managed the logistics of the trip, and the chaperones who gave their time, energy, and guidance to the cohorts.

Thank you,
Karen and Pete Shebek