A PORTADOWN College student is believed to be the first pupil from the school to be offered undergraduate places at two prestigious Ivy League colleges in the United States.
Upper Sixth pupil Andrew Steele (18) is thought to be one of only a handful of international students from Northern Ireland to gain admission to an American university, and in a dilemma every one of his stateside contemporaries would gladly relinquish the title of ‘Prom Queen or King’ for, he has his choice of going to Yale or Harvard.
Widely considered to be the two behemoths of the North American college education system, the U.S. equivalents of Cambridge and Oxford, Andrew is due to make his decision in due course, but whether he is based in Boston (Harvard) or New Haven (Yale), he will be majoring in economics.
“It was a very long process,” said the College pupil of the admissions system which entailed travelling to Dublin to take SATs (apptitude tests American students undertake before graduating from high school) as well as face-to-face interviews with Ivy League alumni in a process which saw him go up against around 34,000 applicants.
But while that would perhaps be enough to put most UK A-Level students off from applying across the Atlantic - along with the fees which can reach upwards of hundreds of thousands pounds for a four-year degree - Andrew was not to be deterred.
“My family has friends in the States, based on the east coast, and I visited them as a child so it’s something that I’ve been thinking of for many years,” Andrew said. He stressed that he is only able to attend either US college because of the financial packages they offer international students.
Perhaps a sign that his future lay across the pond came when one of his American friends gave him a Harvard college sweatshirt as a child. “It was too big for me at the time, but it would fit now,” he laughs.
Predicted to gain four A* grades in his A-Level subjects of Economics, Maths, History and Biology, Andrew adds that his mother, Kerry and younger brother Gavin, who also attends Portadown College, are “very proud” of him, but adds that he hopes his fortuitous outcome will encourage fellow sixth form students to at least consider an university education in the States.
“I’ve talked to other pupils about the process, which can be tedious, considering that you still have to study for A-Levels and still go through the UCAS process. But I just want to show that it’s an option open to them,” he said.
Andrew was congratulated by head teacher Mr Simon Harper, who said he would be a great ambassador for the College. “And not only the school, but Northern Ireland as well. We’re very proud of him,” he added.
With the A-Level results published at the end of August, Andrew is due to fly to the US the week beforehand to start college life as a sophmore. All that remains for him is to choose his college colours - red and grey for Harvard or Yale’s navy and white.
The choice is Andrew’s...