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Education Autobiography

Sasha De La Cruz's picture

Chapter 1 – The Big Move

Chapter 2 – Teacher Bound Upward Bound

Chapter 3 – You won’t make it to Harvard

Chapter 4 – Let’s take Harvard and Yale off Your List (They might be too far of a reach)

Chapter 5 – Education not Deportation/ Save Our Schools

Chapter 6 – Posse

Chapter 7 – So This is What Being the “Minority” in College Feels Like


Chapter 4 – Let’s take Harvard and Columbia off Your List (They might be too far of a reach)


Ever since I can recall, Harvard has always been my dream school. Although I had no knowledge about its reputation and prestige, I always associated success with attending Harvard. Back in the Dominican Republic, saying you went to Harvard made you an idol, which was the case for one of my cousins, becoming one of the reasons for my “ambition”. Throughout the course of time and as I made my way to living in Boston, my love for Harvard grew. My freshman year I joined a college preparatory program, the Teacher Bound Upward Bound program at Wheelock College (UB). Through this program I learned more about college and went on a number of college tours all around the country. This is where I became more open minded about my college options, but still aiming for Ivy League or other prestigious colleges in general.


I attended an urban, low-income, public high school. Needless to say there was a lack of funding causing a scarcity of resources, which made it harder for students to even learn about options for colleges. Although I am grateful for the different types of organizations that came into my school to attempt to help with the college process, I must say some of these organizations do not really work for the students’ best interests and tend to hold students to low expectations. Some organizations came in for info sessions on colleges and actually helped students complete applications. When I say these can be inadequate and hold students to low expectations, I am referring to the fact that these groups would only come from community colleges and tech training schools. This is not to say that community colleges or tech schools are any less important than other colleges, my issue with the underlying message behind these actions that are sent to the students. To me it seems as if these organizations do not believe these students can make it any further than that community college. It was not only until I had a first hand experience with such low expectations that I began to have certain feelings against these types of groups.


Back in Boston there is this program called Bottom Line whose mission is “to help disadvantaged high school students to get in to college, graduate and go far in life”. This program basically targets students like myself, who attend low-income, urban high schools to help them through the entire college application process. The way it works is that every student gets an advisor who you will meet with and they will give you certain deadlines and walk you through the application. As ambitious as I am, I decided I wanted to take advantage of every program that was going to aid me through the process, so I decided to join Bottom Line. My issues with the program began almost immediately – when drafting my college list. I noticed my advisor always made me go through statistics, only statistics about the colleges. To certain extent I understand the importance of this when trying to categorize between safeties, possible and reach. The whole process of creating my college list was based on numbers of the schools, not its location, demographics, fields of studies, etc. – Simply numbers. After taking a look of the schools I wanted to apply to, my advisor became very persistent in trying to convince me take Harvard and any other Ivy League college out of my list. Although I did understand that because I come from a low-income household and the odds may be against me because of the color of my skin, I had very good grades and in fact ended up being valedictorian of my high school. Which is why I did not understand why me attending an Ivy League seemed extremely far-fetched. She was really trying to convince me to apply to community colleges and state schools, which again are not bad at all but they simply were not what I wanted. I met with my advisor twice and then decided I could not continue to be held to such low expectations.


Aside from Bottom Line, my Upward Bound program was also aiding me. This is where I really began to realize how Bottom line was simply tying to make me settle for my safety schools. Everyone in Upward Bound had known the same 50 students since our freshman year. Because of this, they became extremely helpful finding schools where not only would we have a good chance of being admitted, but where we would fit in socially. My UB program knew my interests and goals so they were very helpful with my college selection and essay. Because of my UB program I became a Posse scholar and go here; although it is not Harvard it’s as prestigious. Although the mission and goals of these programs might be with the best intentions, they do need to take into consideration each students’ goals and plans.