I don’t believe in telling people how they should live their lives. Because well, it’s their life, and thus their decision.
I do believe, however, that everyone is entitled to their opinion (and trust me– I don’t think that people are “entitled” to much of anything in life).
For this reason, while I respect Tennessee student Ronald Nelson’s decision to decline every Ivy League offer he received to attend the University of Alabama, I also disagree with it.
In case you somehow managed to avoid what society is currently gossiping about, Ronald Nelson is a 17 year old student from Germantown who has near perfect standardized test scores: “Nelson took 15 AP classes and earned a 4.58 G.P.A. in high school. He scored a 34 on the ACT and 2260 on the SAT” (www.ABC7.com).
Nelson’s academic achievements earned him positive recognition from both prestigious colleges/universities and the media. But after declining offers from all eight Ivy League schools, and other prestigious colleges/universities, Nelson is being recognized both positively and negatively.
Since Nelson explained his decision is somewhat due to financial issues, and also that he is thankful that he had the experience to open up an immense amount of acceptance letters that started with “Congratulations,” I can see why others are viewing him positively. I also respect his decision. But I do not agree with it. I mean, come on, it’s Ivy League we’re talking about here. And as someone who didn’t come from money that attended a prestigious, private college, I strongly believe that there are benefits of attending elite colleges/universities that outweigh the one negative, which is the cost.
That is why when Nelson stated “But I really do think I’ll be able to make the same experience for myself at the college I chose,” I couldn’t help but think “he is very naive” (www.seventeen.com). I have nothing against the University of Alabama, or any state school for that matter. However, I do not believe Nelson will be able to make the same experience for himself at the University of Alabama, that he would have at a more elite college (and I’m speaking from experience here).
I too thought like Nelson until I realized I wasn’t being challenged during my first year of college, and decided to transfer. I too feared the debt that I would have after graduating. But after making the decision to attend a prestigious school where I was challenged, I can honestly say I wouldn’t trade the education I received or the experience I had for anything in the world.
How many people can say “I too” to that?
For the record– the education and experience that I got from the two colleges I attended are not comparable. And I want Nelson and others who fear going beyond their means to realize that doing so for your education is an investment, and that while I don’t encourage excessive spending, there is such a thing as good debt.
I want Nelson and others to be the few who can say “I too.”
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports