Accepted, Will Not Attend: Why I Chose Fordham Over the Ivy League




My cursor hovered over the button I could not bring myself to click: Accepted, Will Not Attend. It was not the mouse that froze, but the hand that held it. A pair of lives I’d not yet lived flashed before my eyes. I’d visited both Cornell’s and Fordham’s campuses, I’d spoken with students and faculty, and I’d done hours of research about my major online, but my most important question remained unanswered: What do I really want to get out of life? This was the final question posed to my senior class in a homily given by one of the Franciscan friars who taught at my high school. After weeks of reflection, I’ve finally come up with an answer. I want to give the most destitute members of society opportunities to succeed.

After four years of classes and lessons at St. Francis High School in my hometown of Buffalo, NY, I am most grateful for all that I learned about myself. I spent the past four years discovering my vocation and I intend to spend the next four years learning how to achieve my goals in practice. Any university could prepare me for a job, but Fordham will teach me to do God’s work.

Two integral aspects of Fordham’s mission statement correspond with my aspirations. Fordham takes pride in its liberal arts education. The school subscribes to the concept of Cura Personalis, a Latin phrase meaning “whole person.” Students take a rigorous core curriculum over the course of their first two years. Though it is unlikely anyone will enjoy every class that they are required to take, the value of a “well-rounded” education is that students learn to understand a variety of subjects and develop different perspectives. I want to help those less fortunate than me—beyond that, I have no idea what I want to do for a career. I like that I will be able to take collegiate-level courses in a broad range of disciplines before deciding what specific career path I think will make me happiest.

Like St. Francis High School students, Fordham undergraduates are not called to be mere scholars, but diverse Renaissance men and women. Outside of the classroom, students are encouraged to join student organizations to connect with classmates and further enrich their college experience. Many of these student organizations are service-oriented. I was the community service coordinator of my high school’s Campus Ministry. Through various volunteer experiences, I have learned to see the value in service to the poor. Fordham students have a reputation for caring for others in the community. They truly live the mission of their second motto.

Fordham students are called to be “People for Others.” Along with caring for the whole person, Fordham students make a commitment to care about the whole community. The opportunities to serve are unparalleled at almost any other university. Each semester, Fordham students dedicate thousands of hours to working with poor families in the Bronx. Having the ability to volunteer and make a genuine difference in the lives of those who most need assistance was one of the main reasons I chose to go to college in New York. Not only will I be able to continue my Catholic education, but I will be able to live the faith that is such a core component of my identity. I will also be able to serve the professional community through innumerable internship opportunities in the financial capital of the world. I can work with accounting firms, financial planning corporations and even the United Nations while gaining practical experience in providing financial opportunities to the poor. Fordham will challenge and encourage me to harbor my desire to become more conscientious and compassionate.

Choosing which university to attend was the toughest decision I have ever made. This “fork in the road” separates into a pair of one-way streets, and I am terrified that I will regret the path I chose to follow. What if I fail to excel academically? What if I never grow accustomed to New York? What if I cannot keep the promise I made to myself to help those less fortunate than me? I may not achieve all that I set out to do by the time I graduate college. But at least I know if I fall flat on my face, it’s because I took a tremendous leap of faith by choosing the holistic education of Fordham over the reputation of Cornell. Life isn’t about having no regrets; it’s about having the right regrets. Growing up is about living with the choices we make. I chose to be a man for others.

To the seniors who have decided where they will go after graduating Fordham, I hope that your Jesuit liberal arts education has helped you find your passion. To my fellow incoming freshmen who may still be in the midst of making difficult decisions about their majors, consider this: What do you really want to get out of life?