How a teenager used insights about his prep school life to get into an Ivy League school

Jon Carlo DominguezscreengrabJon Carlo Dominguez will attend Columbia in the fall.

Each year, The New York Times puts out a call for college admission essays to the newest class of applicants. This year, they chose seven of the most poignant essays they came across about money, work, and social class, and published them on its site to showcase their raw and honest power.

Jon Carlo Dominguez, a senior at the all-boys St. Peter’s Preparatory School in Jersey City, wrote an incredibly insightful essay that the Times showcased.

Wise beyond his years, Dominguez wrote with self-awareness about the differences evident between his prep school experience, and that of his friends and peers in his low-income community. Most of the people in his North Bergen hometown go to the local public school, while he goes to a private school an hour away.

“On my way to the bus stop, I always run into my childhood friends as we go in different directions,” he wrote. “I wonder, ‘Why is my life so different from theirs?'”

Dominguez doesn’t purport to live in the most dangerous community, but nevertheless realises that his daily life is quite different from that of his neighbourhood friends.

“I don’t live in a dystopian town where gunshots go off every day,” he wrote. “However, many of my friends just don’t care about school and use alcohol, drugs or sex to escape from their socioeconomic realities; the majority of my town is low-income and Latino.”

Dominguez’s essay, which helped earn him a spot at Columbia University in the fall, noted that while he has incredibly close friends from his prep school, they can be tone-deaf in their interactions with members of his own low-income community. This realisation has driven him to tutor friends in the community, and encourage them to pursue college.

You can read an excerpt of his admission essay below:

“To enjoy the weekend, I go to a football game between Prep and my neighbourhood. During a play, my prep friends chant, “That’s alright, that’s ok, you’ll be working for us someday.” Having deep bonds of friendship on both sides, I’m shocked at the thoughtlessness of my classmates. Part of me feels ostracized, but another part of me wants to fix things; I fiercely lecture them on how wrong they are about my home. With my neighbourhood friends, part of me wants to ignore what the football fans had to say, but a subtle fear that they may be right grows in my heart. I am moved and start tutoring my neighbourhood friends with my used test-preparation books and showing them the social skills I learned from Dale Carnegie. I also start sharing books on body language and charisma, fascinating guides to lucid dreaming, and my favourite thrillers from Stephen King. I do this simply because it’s what friends do. While I see college as an opportunity, many of my neighbourhood friends see it as an obstacle keeping them from a paying job. I am trying to help this handful of friends realise that studying, reading, and learning can be rewarding.”

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