Although naturally very smart, Ronald was uninvolved and low performing at his high school. A freshman at a very large Texas high school, he had poorly chosen his first year’s course load, placing him in a lower academic level than his peers.
His mother had cried at describing Ronald’s lack of activities, his constant video gaming, and his unrealized potential. He had stopped participating in Boy Scouts and was only participating in a tutoring activity once every two weeks. He was interested in chemical engineering, but had yet to take any science classes or participate in science clubs.
Ronald signed up with us at the end of his freshman year, so there was still time to advise him on extracurricular participation and academic focus. It was also clear from the start that he was energized by public service, even if he was a bit shy and unsure of how to get started. The first possible approach was to realign Ronald’s personal direction away from the sciences and focus on developing his focus around more typical community service. The second approach was to find a way to merge his interests in both, using public service to prepare him for a future in the sciences.
The Admissionado Approach
I ultimately went with the second approach. After digging in deep with Ronald, he began to discuss something unique: he loved helping other students understand the sciences. Ronald became more involved in his tutoring program, leading weekly programs and excelling at teaching other students math. He began working with both students and their parents, helping to identify individual student’s issues and creating tailored study plan for reach of them.
Ronald returned to Boy Scouts with increased vigor, leading multiple campouts. He was so talented at leading the other campers, directing them through their various responsibilities during the trip, and teaching them about the natural sciences that he was elected Senior Patrol Leader. Ronald began to want an academic experience beyond what his high school could provide – one that truly focused on the sciences and would give him the toolsets to help others. A few of his friends decided to apply to a highly competitive Math and Science boarding school, and, although his grades were a bit lower than average, Ronald decided to apply also. Thus, we made sure his essays explained his aspirations, making a strong connection between his current experiences and future goals.
Ronald was waitlisted at the boarding school. He and his family were disappointed, but we didn’t give up. With our encouragement, he hadn’t stopped working on his academics and extracurricular activities after submitting his application, so when they asked for any updates, he had plenty to tell them. Ronald was ultimately accepted at the Texas Academy of Math and Sciences where he will be starting in the fall as an Eagle Scout.
While working with Ronald, I saw his mother cry twice: when we first met, and she was distraught about Ronald and his future, and on our last call, when he had been accepted to one of the most competitive boarding schools in Texas. He is one of the most caring and determined students I’ve ever met, and I can’t wait to see this Eagle Scout soar.