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My College Hunting Experience

by Black Issues

My College Hunting Experience

This year, as I prepare to enter the rest of my life, one of my most memorable experiences has been the search for my perfect college. I have been through many steps in this process. In addition to evaluating schools in the basis of the academic environment, I’ve had to consider issues such as geographic location and campus size as well. One of the most important factors in my decision was that the college I chose be moderate in most aspects of student life. For example, some schools are very religious, some have an extremely heavy workload, some have extremely strong athletic programs as supposed to academics, etc. I sought a school that offered a balance.
Initially, I was under the illusion that I wanted to attend an Ivy League school. This thought quickly disappeared, however, when I visited the University of Pennsylvania. I was the only Black person in my tour group and, at first, was treated as if I might have been a bad student, only getting in to fill a quota. In other words, the guide assumed that the other kids had certain credentials which I lacked, and that was evident in her conversation with me. However, when she discovered that I had outscored the rest of the group by far on the SAT,  her attitude, and subsequent treatment of me, changed. This is when I realized that maybe the Ivy League was not the right environment for me.
So, I started to focus more on southern schools. The first southern campus I visited was the University of Virginia. What struck me most was the relative scarcity of Black people. Perhaps I am sensitive to this issue because I come from a high school that is predominantly Black. I knew, in advance, that UVA was a predominantly White school, but this lack of color was disturbing to me, as I could not picture this as my ideal learning environment.
Luckily for me, just as I was deciding that a historically Black school might best suit me, and business was the major that interested me, the scholarship offers came rolling in. I visited several other schools and have decided to attend Florida A&M University in the fall.
My biggest piece of advice to college recruiters is to treat each and every prospective student as if she has perfect grades and SAT scores. Students notice differential treatment, and it is not appreciated. Also, it is sometimes the student you least suspect who may turn out to be a hidden asset to a university. So, don’t write a student off and not encourage her to apply on the basis of how she looks, because we listen as much to what you don’t say as to what you do!  

Portia Imani Hurtt is a senior at Washington, D.C.’s School Without Walls and a National Achievement Semifinalist who scored 1450 on the SAT — 800 in English.

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