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Everyone knows that in the realm of higher education, the Ivy League universities rule. They’re the country’s most prestigious and thought to be among the world’s best schools. Yale, Harvard, Penn and the others are also considered to almost guarantee financial success to their graduates.

This year we’ve heard of a handful of African American high schoolers who’ve been accepted to multiple Ivies; some to all 8! As you’d expect, nearly all plan to attend one of them – all, that is, except Ronald Nelson Jr. Ronald, a brilliant senior at Houston High School, near Memphis, Tennessee, is senior-class president plus a National Merit and National Achievement Scholar, and a state award winning saxophone player. He’s chosen to attend the University of Alabama for some well thought out and unselfish reasons.

Though he scored pretty much off the charts on his SAT (2260 out of a possible 2400) and ACT (34 out of a possible 36) exams and carries a 4.58 GPA, he was offered only partial scholarships to the Ivy League schools. The University of Alabama offered him not only a four year full scholarship, but also admission to a special honors program and stipends for housing, study abroad and more. Ronald, who plans to attend medical school after college, chose not to subject his parents to the financial strain of four years at those very expensive elite schools followed by four years of med school expenses. In addition, his older sister is already a college student, due to graduate in 2016.

Though each of the Ivy League Universities vows to meet the needs of each admitted student, that doesn’t mean that they cover each student’s tuition. Instead, they use a formula including the student’s family income, assets and size to determine aid levels. After his sister graduates next spring, his costs would increase, he says, “pretty drastically.” Ronald chose to save for medical school and spare his family the financial strain.

He says, “I’ve had a lot of people questioning me, ‘Why are you doing this?’ but after I explain my circumstances, they definitely understand where I’m coming from,” Furthermore, he adds, “The Ivy League experience would certainly be something amazing, to make these connections, and have these amazing professors,” he added. “But I really do think I’ll be able to make the same experience for myself at the college I chose.”

What do you think? To me, though the Ivy League schools have their advantages, in this case and because of the way he thinks, Ronald Nelson will be not have any problem reaching and exceeding his goals! Remember that name. I’m sure we’ll be hearing great things from this young man in the not-too-distant future.

Jerry Wells

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