More than a win over Duke, Carolina alumni most covet admission to Carolina for their sons, daughters and grandchildren. This admirable enthusiasm can be carried to excess when we encourage those we love to believe that there is really only one institution that is best for them — our alma mater.
Most readers understand how much more competitive UNC has become over the years, and we know that measured by today’s standards, many of us who attended Carolina 20 or more years ago would not be admitted now. Because we know that our offspring are brighter, work harder and are better prepared than were we, we find it hard to accept when someone close to us — someone we’ve encouraged for years to attend Carolina — is denied admission.
Despite repeated emphasis on college rankings, among our nation’s 3,200 colleges and universities are scores of excellent institutions, each of which provides an intellectually stimulating and nurturing environment for curious and conscientious students. Our hope and responsibility should be to encourage and challenge our children to continue their education and to provide them with opportunities to explore the rich choices that exist.
For nearly 20 years, the GAA has hosted receptions across North Carolina and in New York, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta where we encourage students who have been admitted to Carolina to enroll. We bring colleagues from across campus who can address specific questions. We also invite students to bring their parents. When I address these groups, my message to the parents is simple: “Relax. Be reassured that if your son or daughter has been admitted to UNC and is considering other offers, it is highly unlikely that they can or will make a poor choice. Further, please remember, the choice is and should be theirs.”
It was refreshing to receive the following clever story from a UNC classmate whose son recently selected his college:
“Last night, while watching the evening news on TV, I heard my son, Paul (we call rum PJ) call out, ‘Dad, Dad, I’m in!’ PJ was at the family computer and had received an e-mail notifying rum of his early admission to his college of choice.
“After congratulating PJ for his fine achievement, I sat down and pondered his college choice.
“PJ is an excellent student. He gets high scores on standardized tests, has excellent grades in the tough advanced courses and is a leader in extracurricular activities, including the marching band and Model UN. We were delighted when PJ’s guidance counselors said he was qualified for any college he chooses. With thousands of colleges nationwide, and a few good ones outside the U.S., however, that made his choice of colleges a bewildering challenge.
“I was pleased and impressed when PJ asked for advice from his family.
“As a Carolina grad, I suggested that he arrive at his choice by a process of elimination. Start with the list of the 50 best national universities (Carolina is No. 28) and the 50 best liberal arts colleges listed in U.S. News & World Report, I said. Those lists, I said, are sure to work for you.
“Next I suggested that he pick a college with the color blue. PJ looks especially good in blue, the color of his eyes. That eliminated many colleges, including Harvard and Cornell (red), Princeton and Syracuse (orange), Dartmouth (green) and Brown (brown).
“PJ’s sister, Lisa, suggested that, since his last name is Berg, PJ should eliminate all the colleges with one-syllable names. Out went Tufts, Penn, Yale and Duke. Still, however, we were left with a very long list.
“Now it was my wife Judy’s turn to list some criteria. Pick a school where there are good restaurants, shops and hotels, she said, so she can enjoy herself when we visit. That eliminated Middlebury, Davidson,Vassar and Hamilton. And, she added, pick a school to the South, since our Connecticut winters can get mighty long. That took care of Boston U, MIT and Amherst.
“Finally, it was my granddaughter Caroline’s turn. She suggested a college that starts with the letter ‘C,’ contains eight letters and ends with a vowel. Surely, I figured, that was the clincher. I began having visions of attending football games at Kenan Stadium on sunny Saturday afternoons under Carolina blue skies while Judy was shopping on Franklin Street; then we’d all meet for supper at the Rat before Judy and I returned to our room at The Carolina Inn.
“P] accepted all of our advice. So you can imagine the look on my face when he announced his choice: Columbia.”
— Peter E. Berg ’70
Yours at Carolina,
Douglas S. Dibbert ’70