Challenging the shared familial Union experience


By Jessica Doran

Although I do share some of the sentiments that were voiced in Nora Swidler’s article last week, I believe that the approach that this article took was a bit biased in some regards.

I am in a similar situation with my family, although the circumstances are much different. My sister has chosen to come to Union, but the road getting there was not an easy one.

Given the amazing four years I’ve had at Union, I would love for my sister to attend. But like Nora and her brother, my sister and I are also very different.

And on top of that, Union is a different place than it was when I started four years ago. As I have followed the college process with her, these differences have become even more pronounced, and with that realization my push for her to attend Union has decreased.

This is not because I do not want her to come here. In fact, I believe that one of the beauties of Union is that it appeals to a variety of people. Not only that, but there are opportunities for all different types of people to excel.

In this, I’ve been internally battling to separate myself from  my sister’s experience at Union.

This is her decision to make and her place to grow and to learn. I believe that it is extremely important for her to feel like this place is her own, as I felt it was mine, and I know she is grappling

with this. I will be leaving this year, so I am not worried about my proximity to her, but it is nice to know that she will be attending a place that I always felt comfortable and welcome.

Although all of these things are good and true about Union, we must face the bitter fact that college acceptance is a difficult game. You have to play your cards right and be ready for whatever is thrown at you. I certainly was met with some surprises, and so was my sister.

In this, I believe it is important to point out that there will be discrepancies. Of course smart students are going to fall through the cracks and not be accepted to schools that are truly of their caliber.

It is merely a byproduct of this process, and it is inevitable. But to quote Professor Stephen Berk and comment on the prestige of Union’s students based on one rejection? This is a bit extreme.

Also, when I was accepted to Union, the acceptance rate was already quite low. A lower acceptance rate is reflective of an elite acceptance process that I believe should be admired rather than discouraged.

Yes, fewer people will be accepted to the school. But they will be the right people with the appropriate fit for Union. Also, as applications increase, acceptance rates will decrease. It is inevitable—we are a small school.

I can say that from the opposite perspective, I would also be confused if my sister did not get into Union. Fortunately, my sister has worked extremely hard and has gotten into Union based on that effort and coinciding academic success. She did not expect to get into this school because I did.

But I can also say that I have lived the other perspective: my sister did not originally want to attend Union because I attended. This can be construed in whichever way you choose. She has chosen to attend Union because of its academics and her belief that it will challenge her. I admire this. Although my sister and I will have attended the same institution, which I am sure we will both come to love equally, we will love it in our own separate ways and because of our separate experiences.

There may be a familial Union experience, but it is surely not one that comes without hard work and academic focus on top of familial ties to the school.


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