Helping John Follow His Dreams

Around this time last spring, I started working with a transfer student who I’ll call John. On paper, John was in an enviable situation. Not only was he attending a private university, but he had been accepted to a special first-year program where students worked directly with professors and lived on a separate campus. Immersed in a tight-knit academic community and living with some of the brightest students within an already elite university, John seemed to “have it made” and be on an excellent track to eventually enter the business world.

However, John’s actual college experience was starkly different from how it would appear on his resume. He often felt isolated to the extent that twice a week, he commuted four hours round-trip to attend classes and club meetings on the main campus. Perhaps worst of all, John seemed to have the nagging feeling that a traditional business career was not for him, even though he had already taken several classes and an internship to work towards that professional dream.

On our first session, John and I had a deep conversation about his passion for fine cuisines, wine, and the hotel industry. Working from this initial session, we realized that his best transfer options weren’t universities with traditional business programs.

I recommended that John look at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration (HSA). He was initially skeptical, but when I reminded him of how passionate he sounded in our conversation about the hospitality industry, he ultimately chose to apply.

John is now a sophomore at Cornell’s HSA. Though my contact with him ended after he submitted his transfer application, I received a note from John’s father in May:

“You were the first to listen and were able to find him [John] a program that matched his interests along with a college environment that he wished. He is excited and we are too. This will be the turning point and choice of a career that John was looking.”

John’s story has driven home how important it is to listen to the high school seniors and transfer students whom we help at Firat Education.