Look around you. What you see is a prestigious college preparatory institution. What you see is a school that is regarded as one of the best in the city of Houston.
Unfortunately what many students see is a school that does not get its students into the best colleges in the nation.
I thought the same thing my fellow Eagles, until I was informed of the truth of the matter surrounding our school and college acceptances.
In the last issue of the Eagle senior Jose Noguera submitted a letter to the editor.
In it he expressed his dismay about the fact that students do not get into “top tier schools.”
“St. Thomas, explicitly called a “college prep” school should manage to get more students into top schools,” Noguera said.
The letter really got me thinking why a prestigious college preparatory school like ours does not get more of its students into these top tier schools.
Noguera defined these top tier schools as those on the level of Harvard, Yale and MIT.
I decided to investigate this issue because it is sort of alarming that top students are allegedly not getting into the schools of their choices.
When I walked into the counseling office I asked Guidance Assistant Teresa Northway who would be the best person to ask questions about college acceptance.
She pointed me in the direction of Mr. Giesmann’s office who, interestingly enough, is Noguera’s counselor, as well as the director of counseling.
Giesmann had actually written back to the paper in a response to Noguera’s letter to the editor.
The letter Giesmann wrote completely changed my thoughts about the counseling department.
It is easy to be angry when you are misinformed, and I have been angry this whole year, complaining that all of our parents spend good money to send us here.
However it seemed as though this money was going to waste because none of us, not even our brightest students, could get into top schools.
At least, that was my line of reasoning before reading Giesmann’s response.
“St. Thomas does not get any student accepted,” Giesmann said. “Individual students gain acceptances based on the merit of their application.”
The reality of the situation hit me like a ton of bricks.
Just because we go to a school of high merit that does not guarantee we are all going to get into Harvard and Yale.
Having said that, our counseling department is actually getting our students into these “top tier schools” Noguera referred to in his letter.
Giesmann cited two different sources that rank universities, the AAU (Association of American Universities) and the US News and World Report.
In the last two years alone students have been accepted to 39 of the 59 top schools according to the AAU.
If this is not evidence enough, Giesmann provided that students have gotten into “more than half of the top 30 [schools] in the last two years alone” ranked by the “more dubious … U.S. News and World Report.”
The schools that are included in this list include Harvard, Stanford, Yale and MIT.
Through his statement Giesmann basically dismantled and disproved two popular misconceptions students hold.
First, students are responsible for working hard and getting themselves into colleges.
The counseling department is a resource and an aid to our success, nothing more. Students should not expect their counselor to get them into college; the responsibility lies on them alone.
Also, students are actually getting into the best universities in the nation.
So a new question arises: if these students are admitted to top schools, why are they choosing not to attend them?
“The focus of the counseling department is not to assist a student in gaining admission to the most highly selective institution on the list,” Giesmann said, “but rather to help him find a school that is an appropriate personal fit where he can be successful and happy.”
Having successfully found answers to the entirety of the questions posed by Noguera, I attempted to track down the man to see if he had any thoughts. He declined an interview but did provide a statement.
“I didn’t mean any disrespect by my statement, and I would like to retract the statement,” Noguera said. “I love my school, and my goal was not to libel any aspect of it.”
The whole experience should teach everyone a few things.
For starters we are all blessed to attend such a remarkable school, and we should count ourselves lucky.
Secondly, faculty members work hard, especially those of the counseling department, to assure we are prepared for the future.
Finally before you start complain about not getting into schools, do something to prevent it from happening.
If you are a freshman, work hard for the next three years.
Sophomores and juniors prepare for standardized tests and attempt to remain active in the community.
As for seniors, quit slacking and submit applications by Christmas and set goals for yourselves.
You only have one life, make it count, be successful.