68: Above and Beyond

68: Above and Beyond

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Getting In...To College

Above and Beyond

It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.

~Author Unknown

My grades were good and my SAT scores were excellent, but still I was nervous as I strolled into the room. It was an Immediate Decision Day; I was to spend the whole day listening to faculty speeches and doing interviews. Then, at the end of the day, they would tell me if I was accepted.

Quickly I second- and third-guessed myself. What if these other students had better grades and personalities than me? How would that affect me? Why did I write my essay about the time a really pretty girl gave me her phone number when I was out with friends?

Then they started pairing candidates with their interviewers. I looked at the group of interviewers standing at the back of the room and felt a little intimidated. I knew I would have no problem articulating myself with these people, but making an actual connection with these formal-looking, older people seemed out of the question. Then they introduced the last interviewer, a young guy named Sean who walked in later than everyone else. I said to myself, “That’s who you need to talk to in your interview.” Lucky for me, that’s the way the administration saw it too.

My interview with Sean went extremely well, and he told me he loved my essay. At the end of the day, he told me that I was accepted, but that the school couldn’t offer me any scholarship money. My high school class was very small and competitive, and even though my rank was respectable, my class percentile wasn’t within the scope of the school’s scholarship window. He told me that if I wanted a scholarship, I would have to raise my SAT scores 30 points.

I was dejected. I didn’t want to take the SATs again. I had gotten a great score and had told myself that I was only going to take them once. Now if I wanted to get any financial aid from my top choice school, I was going to have to take them again. I was frustrated and upset.

Three days later, Sean left a message at my house saying to call him back at his office. When I called back, he told me that he had talked for quite a long time with his boss after I left. The two of them agreed that it was unfair not to offer me a scholarship because my class size was so small. He was on the phone to tell me that they could, in fact, offer me the scholarship money.

My mouth hit the floor. I feebly tried to form a “Thank you” but I couldn’t seem to string the words together. When I got off the phone, I was overwhelmed with emotion. He had stuck his neck out for me. He had gone above and beyond for me, and he didn’t even have to. Nowhere in his job description does it say, “Stand up to your boss and fight the system to help the underdog.” Yet he had done it all the same. I started to cry.

I immediately decided that this would be the school I was going to attend. I was already accepted, and now with a scholarship, but that wasn’t the important part. I felt that any place that wanted me so much that they were willing to do that, is a place that I want to be. And you know what? When I came to school the next fall, I found myself surrounded by people who had similarly inspiring stories. More so then than ever, I knew this was the place for me.

Two years later, when one of my close friends was looking into college, I suggested my school to him. When he went to an Immediate Decision day, my friend had the same interviewer I did, so he asked him an offbeat question. Yes, Sean replied, he still remembered me.

~Ian Zapcic

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