We’ve previously written about Kwasi Enin on our college admissions blog. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, he’s the high school senior who was admitted to each of the eight Ivy League schools. Previously, we wrote about how his Common App. Personal Statement was not, in fact, exceptional. When news organizations boasted of how good his main college essay was, it tickled our curiosity. So we read it. And it was fairly trite. It is indeed possible for students who submit trite essays to gain admission to highly selective colleges. It happens! They just stand much better odds of getting in by submitting refreshing essays that stand out from the usual trite essays (i.e., I overcame adversity to start on my high school soccer team, I didn’t get first chair violin but I love the violin anyway, grandpa was my hero, that service trip to Nicaragua exposed me to a segment of the world that lives in poverty).
Anyhow, today, a news conference was announced — LeBron James style — for Kwasi to let the world know that he has chosen Yale. ZZZzzz. Why is this news? It’s terrific that Kwasi got in and all but let’s not misunderstand why he got in to all eight Ivies. And without having access to his full application, it’s all just speculation. As Kwasi was not our student, we’ll never know the answer but we do know some: (1) His Common App. Personal Statement was decent, though unexceptional; (2) He is a first-generation American whose parents immigrated from Ghana in the 1980’s (colleges love first generation applicants; (3) Kwasi has excellent SAT scores (2250), though applicants with perfect SAT scores are denied year in and year out at the nation’s most elite universities; (4) he has a passion for music; (5) he is ranked eleventh in his graduating class.
A lot of folks seem to be jumping on the bandwagon that this applicant was practically perfect. But read what his high school principal has to say in this excerpt from an article on Kwasi Enin on “CNN”: “[Barbara] Butler said Enin is not only a model academic student, but also plays three instruments for the chamber orchestra, sings in an a cappella group, throws shot put and discus for the high school’s track and field team, participates in student government and has had a lead role in school plays since the ninth grade. ‘Usually kids are good athletes or good musicians or good actors, but they don’t have all three and then on top add student government. It’s a balancing act. He somehow finds time to do it all and then volunteer at a local hospital,’ Butler said. Ms. Butler, Kwasi didn’t get into the eight Ivies because he is well-rounded in that he is on the track team, plays a host of musical instruments, and participates in student government. He got in because he deserved to get in. To assume that he got in because he was well-rounded (the Ivy League colleges seek out students talented in one particular area rather than well-rounded students) is to deny a long-running trend in Ivy League admissions practices.
Curious who we at Ivy Coach believe was the best applicant ever to an Ivy League school? Why it’s William Kamkwamba, the young man who “harnessed the wind.” Find a stronger candidate for admission to an Ivy League school than someone who powered his village and, in so doing, changed the world. Colleges seek out students who will go on to change the world. William Kamkwamba already did by the time he applied to Dartmouth.