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Author Topic: FAMU over Harvard  (Read 1606 times)

smartandunique

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FAMU over Harvard
« on: October 15, 2010, 03:55:13 PM »
When a boy enters first grade at the age of 4 and high school at the age of 12, it's a foregone conclusion that the child will end up at a Harvard or a Stanford or a Cornell. Right? Not if the boy is Ralph Jones Jr., a 16-year-old freshman at Florida A&M University who has received national attention in recent days for passing up opportunities at the 45 other schools that accepted him -- including the prestigious institutions listed above -- to attend the Tallahassee, Fla., HBCU.

Jones said that for him it wasn't about whether or not a school was an Ivy League -- he thought about location, scholarship offers, campus atmosphere and the institution's engineering program in making his decision. "Entering college at the age of 16," Jones told The Root, "I think that my motives behind choosing were a little bit different than other people's. One, I looked at distance from home. Florida A&M is about 300 miles away from my hometown of Atlanta, so that was something that was really important to me, whereas if I had gone somewhere that was considered an Ivy, that would have been a good 2,000."

The proximity is important because he is so much younger than the average freshman, he said. His parents have already had to drive down to his school twice from Atlanta to sign forms for him because of his age. He also said it's long been one of his goals to go to college for free. Many of his top choices were either too far away or did not offer him a full ride. Harvard and Stanford, for example, offered him some money but not a full scholarship. Cornell and Kettering offered full scholarships but were too far away for his liking. Georgia Tech, his No. 1 choice, did not offer a full scholarship.

But what really sealed the deal for FAMU, which Jones said was his fourth-choice school, was a pep rally and recruitment fair he attended. To Jones, the atmosphere was "exhilarating." He said he comes from a long line of HBCU grads, and after that moment, his decision was made.

Now that he's settled into his first semester at his new home, it's come as a bit of a shock to Jones that his choice of school has caused so much controversy. "The criticism has been overwhelming," Jones said. "[Talking to the media] was a big mistake on my part. I've never been under this kind of scrutiny before. Never nationwide like this. This is bigger than anything I've ever experienced."

People found him through his Facebook and Twitter pages, and even sent text messages to his cell phone number, which was listed on his Facebook page. He said he received about 20 text messages from people who felt he had made a poor decision.

"Some of the stuff people were saying was like, 'For someone so smart, he's so dumb.' I've gotten some really strange things," he said. "It's been wow. [Last] week [was] interesting."

Jones decided to write a note on his Facebook page to his detractors, explaining why FAMU was a better choice for him than Harvard, pointing to his internship offer from Lockheed Martin as an example of the opportunities available to FAMU students.

For Jones, the negativity being thrown his way has only reinforced his determination to be successful at FAMU and prove that he can receive an excellent education at an HBCU.

"I think that this only pushes me to work a little harder, and to show people that this was my decision and I stand behind it, and I'm not going to back down from it," he said. "I've said over and over again that I'm a major in pre-engineering. And while a lot of people get upset that I didn't attend an Ivy League institution, what they don't realize is that [at] most Ivy League institutions -- while I respect them for their liberal arts programs, their law programs, their prestige, the great contributions they've made to society, etc. -- their colleges of engineering are really just in name as far as prestige is concerned. For example, Harvard's [school] of engineering is still fairly new, while the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering is, I'd say, one of the best, if not the best, in the state."

Questions have abounded in recent years over the relevance of HBCUs, but Jones said that he believes these schools are still very valuable for students looking for a specific type of college atmosphere and learning environment.

"Everyone knows why HBCUs were founded, because of racial segregation and how African Americans couldn't attend mainstream institutions," he said. "Now that things have been righted and it is a possibility -- I can attest to that -- I think HBCUs are valuable now more so for the experience.

"I believe Florida A&M is unlike any other college in the world just because of the HBCU experience here: the step shows, the band, the night life. It's all unique," Jones continued. "When it comes down to it, the family feeling -- I didn't feel that at other institutions, because I visited a lot of schools. And this is the only one [where] I felt like I was part of something larger."




bigs5068

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Re: FAMU over Harvard
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2010, 06:24:29 PM »
Very cool article. I think it really goes to  show that the school you attend is a personal choice. This also shows tot everyone is so rapped up in prestige and that what is ideal for one person is of no interest to someone else. Furthermore, he has an internship at Lockheed Martin and it was one of the biggest engineering firms in America. Had he gone to Harvard he probably would have gotten the internship, but been further away from home and had more debt. He is clearly a knowledgeable engineer and the name on his degree will not mean much if he gets results. The same thing is true in every profession.

Morten Lund

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Re: FAMU over Harvard
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2010, 09:30:36 PM »
I'm just going to quote myself from the post I just made in a different thread:

You are only in law school for three years.  You will be a law school graduate for much, much longer.  You should choose the law school that is best for life after law school, not for life during law school.

The same applies for college.  Words cannot express what a horrible decision I think this boy is making.

Thane Messinger

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Re: FAMU over Harvard
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2010, 10:52:54 PM »
I'm just going to quote myself from the post I just made in a different thread:

You are only in law school for three years.  You will be a law school graduate for much, much longer.  You should choose the law school that is best for life after law school, not for life during law school.

The same applies for college.  Words cannot express what a horrible decision I think this boy is making.


All -

It should not be a knock on any school to agree with Morten.  So, for what it's worth, Morten is right x the number of years of post-graduate life - missed opportunities + additional responses from those who've been there and heard that, divided by the need to feel good.

louiebstef

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Re: FAMU over Harvard
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2010, 03:17:58 PM »
Choices, choices...Having them to make is actually pretty nice, eh?

This type of choice is relatively easy, at least for me.

I won't be listening to Harvard or Yale bang on my front door.  If I am lucky, it'll be more like comparing the relative
positives and negatives of a scholarship mix from Miami, Stetson, and FIU balanced by maybe an acceptance to FSU and/or UF.

Go to a solid Tier 2 well regarded in the state, paying full freight?
Possibly attend a local Tier 3 that may go as far as to offer a full scholly with stipend?
Attend in south Florida, because THAT may be the best financial option?

The only tough choice I can see would be if a T-14 accepted me and then gave me maybe a half tuition scholarship(yeah RIGHT).  NOW
the choice between that and a full ride would be a bit agonizing.

ALL of the choices we make are based on each of our own situations, goals, and values.
"Why be a lawyer? I'm already an ass.  Might as well go professional!"

bigs5068

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Re: FAMU over Harvard
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2010, 04:49:26 PM »
I really do not see how not going to Harvard is a horrible decision. It sounds like the kid wants to be in Florida so he choose to go to school in Florida. He now has a job at LockHeed Martin in Florida, which is one of the top engineering companies out there and he is working in the location he wants to live in.  Had he gone to Harvard he would have gotten to the same place, but he would have had more debt and maybe not even been placed in Florida. If he performs well at Lockheed he will get promoted etc. On top of that the Ivy League schools are not known for their engineering programs, which as an engineering student he knows.  My Dad was an engineer his whole life at Boeing and was quite successful and there were no Ivy League Grads that worked in his division. Most of the people he worked with were from Purdue, which is a top engineering school, but I would not say it is that well known or prestigious.

IPFreely

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Re: FAMU over Harvard
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2010, 11:57:09 AM »
Who the hell goes to Harvard for an engineering degree anyway?  MIT FTW.