The following article features recent Dartmouth University admit Olvin, who was a member of CollegeAdvisor.com’s Scholars Program. For more information about our programming and personal guidance about the college application process, head to CollegeAdvisor.com and sign up for a monthly plan to work with an admissions coach 1-on-1.
As a kid, CollegeAdvisor.com Scholar Olvin never thought he would go to college. Now, he’s one of more than ten CollegeAdvisor.com Scholars to be awarded a Questbridge match to the school of his dreams.
“I wasn’t really expecting much,” Olvin said. “I only ranked two schools and both of them had very low acceptance rates.” When he opened the email, Olvin was thrilled — he had received a full four-year scholarship to Dartmouth.
Growing up in a small town in Honduras, an elite school like Dartmouth never seemed possible to Olvin. Neither of his parents had gone to college, and the financial barriers seemed insurmountable. “I did know that I wanted to go to college,” Olvin said. “I just didn’t know if I could.”
Still, Olvin learned as much as he could, developing an early love of astronomy — which he now hopes to study — with the unwavering support of his parents. “My mom is my biggest role model,” he said. “I know it’s one of the most cliche answers, but it’s true. She had nine children in total, and she was the only one raising all of us. It was definitely an eye-opening experience to see how much she could do with the little she had.”
Six years ago, Olvin moved away from his family in Honduras, joining his older sister — whom he had never met before — in Virginia. As he entered high school, Olvin was surprised by the intricacies of the college application process. “I didn’t even know what the CommonApp was until last year,” Olvin told CollegeAdvisor.
For Olvin, school was never about grades. “I don’t like to think about learning in terms of grades,” he said. “I was just trying to learn as much as I could.” Throughout high school, Olvin’s passion for learning grew. Among other activities, he tutored ESL students, served on the Spanish Honor Council, and even started an astronomy club at his school.
Olvin took this same desire for knowledge to his college search. As a first-generation, low-income student, Olvin had to do much of his early research alone. During this research process, he found out about the CollegeAdvisor Scholars (then Bullseye Scholars) program and submitted an application.
With the help of the CollegeAdvisor Scholars program, Olvin successfully navigated the college admissions process. The hardest part of this process, Olvin said, was understanding college finances. “I feel like my biggest concern was, of course, paying for college,” Olvin told CollegeAdvisor.com. “It’s an issue that a lot of FGLI students face. I didn’t know that I’d be able to apply to all of these amazing schools. Even though some schools make it clear that they give good aid, students like me don’t know that.”
The FAFSA and CSS profile also presented a challenge, as Olvin lives with his sister rather than his parents. Thankfully, Olvin was surrounded by advisors, mentors, and fellow students, all of whom provided key guidance every step of the way.
For Olvin, one of the most valuable parts of the CollegeAdvisor Scholars program was how Admissions Coach Jasmine and the team focused on life after college acceptance. “We talked about how to adapt to the campus and how to study better. It’s one thing to get into those colleges, but it’s another to do well in them.”
“[CollegeAdvisor’s experts] are some of the most encouraging people,” Olvin said. “The fact that they gave time out of their day to help us was really amazing.”
At Dartmouth, Olvin hopes to study astronomy and political science. “I’m really excited for the classes I’m going to take,” he told CollegeAdvisor.com. “I love the campus. Overall, it’s really about finding my community there.”
“Self-advocacy is very important,” Olvin said when asked what advice he would give to students applying to college. “Don’t give up, as cliche as it sounds. Find people who will be there for you. The resources are there — it’s just about how to find it. If I can do it, so can you.”
This Success Story was written by Abbie Sage, and based on an interview with CollegeAdvisor.com Scholar Olvin. If you want to learn more about the CollegeAdvisor Scholars program or get 1-on-1 help with your college applications from a CollegeAdvisor.com Admissions Expert, register with CollegeAdvisor.com today.