At the 2016 orientation event for UChicago’s Collegiate Scholars Program (CSP), new scholars wrote letters to their future selves. In his letter, high school sophomore Isaaq Khader asked himself, “Did you get into the University of Chicago with that full ride you told your mom you’d get?” Three years later, the CSP team gave the graduating scholars their letters to open and re-read. Khader was able to answer with a resounding YES: He’s a member of the College class of 2023, attending on a full scholarship.
A three-year program that prepares talented Chicago Public Schools students to apply for and succeed at selective colleges and universities, CSP built Khader’s confidence about navigating life on campus. “I feel like CSP gave me a cheat sheet for college,” he says. “Now I know how to take advantage of all the resources, I know that you have to get to classes on time, and that it’s always a good idea to talk with the TAs and go to profs’ office hours.” CSP also made him a better writer and thinker, he says: “I learned what a paper looks like in college and what the teacher is looking for. And the critical thinking class made me question everything in really good ways!”
What would Khader’s new letter to his future self say? “I hope you’ve had the time of your life — first at UChicago and then at MIT or Caltech getting your computer science master’s degree. And I hope your job at Google is awesome!”