I read an inspiring story today about a Sacramento teen named Lloyd Chen who was accepted to all 9 schools he applied to (this includes Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, and MIT). Since the young age of 8, Chen held fast to his dream of going to Harvard for college. Now he’s matriculating there with a full-ride scholarship.
In this age of extremely competitive college admissions, Chen’s 100% acceptance rate is impressive on its own. But what makes his accomplishment even more noteworthy is that Chen grew up without a father and “so poor that most of his clothes were hand-me-downs.” Here’s more on his attitude:
“Throughout my life, I’ve learned to grow up without luxuries,” he wrote in his college application essay. “I don’t need fancy clothes. I don’t need expensive SAT classes. I don’t even need a father.”
“I have something more valuable than luxuries: the foundation to grow and prosper,” he added. “My circumstances have not brought me down, but instead, have made me stronger.”
Wow. Truly impressive.
On a related-but-separate note, Chen’s story reminded me that the Supreme Court will soon issue its decision in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. This case, which examines the constitutionality of race-based affirmative action, has the potential to dramatically alter how colleges go about putting together their student bodies. While it’s unclear at this point what would happen if race ceases to be as a legitimate factor in college admissions (as it is expected to), there is the very real possibility that such a ban would create incentives for colleges to make a more serious attempt to use class-based policies. Such a change could both benefit and hurt students like Chen. I’m curious to see what happens.