From the time I committed to Emory for my undergraduate education, a prevalent, almost unavoidable sentiment has lurked behind conversations with classmates and prospective friends. I couldn’t begin to recount the number of times I’ve been told by other students that Emory did not top their list of desired colleges. Though not explicitly stated, these discussions carry the implication that Emory is an inferior academic institution; to some, it’s the backup college that they had hoped wouldn’t become their alma mater. This all-too-common attitude disregards (or even undermines) Emory’s esteemed standing and the collective accomplishments of the Emory community.
Looking back several years, my personal journey through the college application process seems out of place among those of my peers. Emory was my first choice of the schools to which I applied. As a Georgian and a low-income student, proximity to home played crucial roles in my application and commitment decisions — plane tickets and frequent lengthy road trips would have been inaccessible. Additionally, Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship, which provides financial assistance to Georgia students who choose to continue their education in-state while maintaining a high GPA, also factored heavily into my thought process. It narrowed the scope of schools I considered to those in my own home state, as I couldn’t afford to attend any college without the scholarship.
Emory was the only private institution on my list, and the advertised cost of attendance left me unsure that my dream college would be a viable option financially. While I was floored with excitement when I received my acceptance notification from Emory, my ability to attend depended on the financial aid package I had yet to receive. So when I learned that through a combination of grants, scholarships and loans, I could afford to attend my top college choice, I was overjoyed. This was probably the greatest day of my life up to that point. My gratitude for being able to attend this prestigious university, as well as my fascination with Emory’s impact on the community and region that surround it, have grown exponentially since I stepped on campus last fall.
So for students who feel disappointed after the results of their college application process, it’s imperative to consider not just Emory’s incredible and historic academic environment, but also how privileged we all are to be a part of it. While rejection from the some of the country’s most acclaimed universities is a shame and can hurt, we can’t allow ourselves to forget that Emory is one of the most prestigious and renowned institutions in the United States.
I shouldn’t need to wax poetic about Emory’s academic reputation and impact on both Atlanta and the South — the school’s status speaks for itself. U.S. News and World Report ranks Emory as the 21st best overall university in the country which, despite being the subject of some students’ jokes, still places the school above hundreds of others — a ranking in which our community should take pride. Further, Emory is one of only 62 members of the Association of American Universities, an organization composed of the most economically and scientifically productive universities in the the country.
Emory carries more than mere academic weight, however. In June 2017, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported that Emory University provided over 60,000 jobs and $200 million in tax revenue for the state of Georgia. Emory Healthcare is the largest healthcare system in the state of Georgia; its doctors and nurses provide a visible, fundamental service that our community depends on, and its researchers are at the forefront of medical research, producing novel results like Mahlon DeLong’s work on Parkinson’s treatments and taking on the difficult task of treating the first Ebola virus patients in the United States in July 2014. It’s safe to say that Emory is reputable and impactful across communities and disciplines.
So to my classmates: before you ponder where you could be, take a moment to consider where you are. Your heart will be all the wiser for doing so.
Zach Ball is a College Sophomore from Griffin, Ga.