This brilliant high schooler rejected all eight Ivy League schools, will attend Alabama
In 2015, only eight high school seniors in the country were accepted into all eight Ivy League schools. Four chose to attend Harvard, a couple chose Yale, but only two chose to buck the Ivy League all together. One of those two chose the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which is not in the Ivy League, but is hardly a surprising choice. The eighth student, however, will leave his family behind in Memphis, Tenn., and take up residence this fall on campus at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
Ronald Nelson, who will graduate this month from Houston High School with a 4.58 weighted GPA, scored an eye-popping 34 (out of 36) on the ACT and 2260 (out of 2400) on the SAT. He is the senior class president, a National Merit Scholar and National Achievement Scholar. Oh, and he plays mean saxophone, too.
So why did he turn down the Ivy League — as well as Stanford, Johns Hopkins, New York University, Vanderbilt, and Washington University in St. Louis — in favor of Alabama? It’s simple, really. Unlike many other students who are saddling themselves with hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt, he’s making the savvy decision to get a top notch education at a more reasonable price.
“It took a lot of soul searching for me to push that first ‘accept’ button for Alabama,” Nelson told Business Insider. “Of course there’s a bit of uncertainty. (But the Ivy League schools) told me that I would probably end up paying quite a bit more over the next three years.”
His dad thought it was a brilliant decision.
“With people being in debt for years and years, it wasn’t a burden that Ronald wanted to take on and it wasn’t a burden that we wanted to deal with for a number of years after undergraduate,” Ronald Sr. said. “We can put that money away and spend it on his medical school, or any other graduate school.”
But don’t think for a second the Nelson family believes they are sacrificing the quality of education their son will receive.
Nelson will learn alongside UA’s best and brightest students in the university’s “Fellows Experience,” which is part of the honors college. In fact, Nelson was sold on the university when he visited Tuscaloosa and had the opportunity to meet several other students already in the program.
“It was kind of amazing being around so many like-minded students,” he recalled. “Which is why I think I’ll be able to have a similar situation (to an Ivy League school), considering the type of students they’re attracting.”
On top of that, Nelson will receive a full scholarship, something that would not have been possible at the Ivy League schools where merit-based scholarships are not offered.
“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,” Nelson said. “The Ivy League experience would certainly be something amazing, to make these connections, and have these amazing professors. But I really do think I’ll be able to make the same experience for myself at the college I chose.”
Roll Tide, Ronald.
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— Cliff Sims (@Cliff_Sims) December 3, 2014