Over the years, some folks have asked us, “Who, in your opinion, is the greatest college applicant ever?” It’s surely a fun question for us and we do indeed have some contenders among our former students. Let’s just say that if you’ve been in the business of helping students earn admission to the highly selective colleges of their dreams for a quarter of a century, you encounter some students with truly incredible, one-of-a-kind stories — young men and women who have already changed the world in so many ways.
But the answer we would give to this question for a few years was not a former student of ours. Rather, it was William Kamkwamba, “the boy who harnessed the wind.” The young man from Malawi came from a village without electricity. So he built a windmill made of spare parts to power his village and change the lives of the people of his community. He then co-authored a #1 “New York Times” bestselling book. Oh and then he applied for admission to Dartmouth College. Needless to say, William Kamkwamba earned admission. He was, in our opinion, the greatest college applicant ever. Better than Chelsea Clinton. Better than Malia Obama. Better than Sarah Hughes (she won Olympic gold in figure skating for those non-figure skating fans).
The university that lands Malala will have bragging rights for decades. Don’t think they don’t know this. A Stanford graduate school council even passed a measure to persuade Malala to come to The Farm! They passed a measure!
But there is one college applicant who gives William Kamkwamba a run for his money and that student is Malala. Ok, she gives him more than a run for his money. We’ll definitely give her the crown. Malala needs only one name. Like Cher. The youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the face of advocacy for education and for women’s rights, the young woman who took on the Taliban and survived their inhumanity…can you imagine a stronger college applicant?
Some time ago, there were rumors that she was debating between Oxford and Stanford and that Stanford was requiring her to take the SAT (you may have stood up to the Taliban and won a Nobel Prize but are you familiar with the Pythagorean Theorem?)! We think it’s ridiculous too. Anyhow, we don’t believe she applied this year for admission. She is not, to our knowledge, among the incoming students to Stanford and have confirmed this with a Stanford dean. So where in the world not is Carmen Sandiego but will Malala go to college? Because she will be the greatest college applicant ever. Without question.