(Editor’s note: The title and portions of this article were edited to reflect the results of our verification. We sent emails to the admissions office of the 30 universities mentioned in the original article and have received responses from 10 of them confirming that the subject has been offered admission to their campuses. Thirteen refused to answer our question to protect the subject’s privacy, while seven have yet to respond. Among those who said the subject was eligible for admission, six confirmed that he was offered a scholarship, but we are unable to determine the amount he was offered.)
Julian Martir is the youngest among four children of a tricycle driver father and a vendor mother. He might not have been born into privilege, but he has earned an opportunity of a lifetime: to be accepted in a number of schools abroad.
Over the past several months, the 20-year-old said he received acceptance letters from 30 schools in the United Kindom and the United States, along with merit scholarships. He can now make a choice: to have a chance at a good life and to make a change for his family.
International schools that accepted the Bacolod resident include Fordham University, Johnson & Wales University, Ohio Wesleyan University, Alfred University, Woodbury University, Webster University, Ball State University, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Michigan Technological University, and the University of Massachusetts Boston. (Editor’s note: While Julian enumerated 30 universities in our interview with him, we have edited this list to only include those who answered our email.)
For now, he's keeping his options open in view of his personal circumstances.
"I continue to think about attending universities in Australia, such as the University of Sydney and the University of Queensland, while being waitlisted on a priority list at Connecticut College. I have to keep important factors in mind when I make choices, like the location where my uncle lives, the programs offered, the cost of attendance, the safety of the campus environment, and the extracurricular activities available to students," Julian told PhilSTAR L!fe.
To achieve his remarkable feat, the Negros Occidental High School alumnus took a gap year to prepare for college applications.
"After graduating from senior high school, taking a gap year is taboo, and others will have the stereotype that people who are taking a gap year are called 'tamad mag-aral' or 'walang pangarap sa buhay,' showing how important it is to address those preconceived beliefs. In my experience, it was nerve-racking at first because I decided not to continue my education the first time, despite students remaining inspired to pursue their education for different reasons," Julian explained.
Back then, he simply encountered on his YouTube recommendations a group of aspiring international students who wanted to maximize the available generous scholarships offered by prestigious universities.
He admitted being "baffled" by the undergraduate admission processes abroad but persisted with his mission.
"Now that I had never heard of anyone in my community or even in the city of Bacolod applying to a college abroad, I wanted to put a spotlight on my family and the people who have supported me throughout this exhausting procedure by writing over 100 essays, searching through interview questions and how to make a good impression on the alumni interviewers, compiling the necessary transcript of records and certifications to upload in my application portal, and other responsibilities," Julian wrote in an essay.
Fortunately, he found along the way a college admissions expert on a WhatsApp group to answer all his questions.
The young Filipino was also able to overcome his fear of rejection by looking instead to the realm of possibilities: "It is normal to feel scared and nervous when waiting for college decisions, as we all know the competition is increasing every year. Just remember that attending college is more important than the image of a college that indulges in pessimism."
His practical advice is to start applications in early August, research colleges and their programs if they are a good fit, check the application requirements to find out if they require an English proficiency test or other necessary documents, prepare to apply for financial aid, and follow up with admissions counselors.
For now, he can't wait to start college so he can finally "contribute to our community by bridging the disparity between science and technology." He is especially excited to study computer science and mathematics.
"Education is everyone's responsibility, and it is still there for you. But it is up to you to decide whether you want to use your personal interests to your advantage, such as by working for a company, taking online advanced courses before enrolling in college, refreshing your mind with self-help books, or learning from your past mistakes to become a better version of yourself," Julian told L!fe.
"The experiences mentioned are what I did to learn what it is like to have your own niche and to understand that being independent brings comfort, keeps me sane, and gives me the freedom to explore whatever I want," he added.
Note: We will continue to update this article as we get responses from other universities and more information on the matter becomes available.