Trying to convince Tara to accept the Morehead instead of going to Harvard or MIT.

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It seems like you may be afraid of getting stuck with kids at UNC who aren't motivated. I think there are going to be kids like that everywhere (although likely fewer at MIT). But notice that just because there were kids like that at Cary Academy didn't mean that it was impossible for you to find a pleasant niche. You found people you came to love (Quinn, Chiraayu, Marisa, Jordan, Jeff), and I really do think that you (as well as myself) would find people like that at any college, UNC, Harvard, MIT, it doesn't matter.

I think I remember you telling me in a pre-dating email that you liked Calculus this year a lot more than last year because the fast track wasn't merged with the regular track (of course, because there wasn't a grade ahead of you anymore). So, I think it's also important to accentuate this difference between college and high school: high school allowed you only to take courses that were pretty easily accessible to everyone, while college does not limit you to take classes any average Joe can take. What this means is that you'll be able to have the same experience you're having in Cal 2 this year in many (probably most above Gen Ed) of your classes at any college because the kids in those classes are going to be taking them for their major (which, depending on the level, will probably be similar to yours).

I also don't think you shouldn't feel like you're limited by the number of physics majors you can meet. For instance and comic relief: I'm not planning to be a physics major, and I'm sure you'd like to meet me ;). Same deal with Quinn, Chiraayu, or Jeff. Also, I'm pretty confident you'd like many of the math or computer science majors as well. And I think that it should be noted that just a few very close friends can have a much greater impact on you than a large sum of acquaintances acting collectively. (While I may be completely wrong), it seems to me that the people having dinner at Biaggi's with you that wondrous Saturday night affected you more than all of the people you interacted with however transiently over your 4 years of high school. I suppose I'm trying to say (although somewhat treacherously given my passion): it's not all in the numbers. Sure, there may be something like 20x more physics majors at MIT than UNC, but does that mean that the physics students at MIT are therefore more able to impact your life? I don't really think so. (I concede, however, that the higher numbers do allow for more options of whom to connect to.)

A more personal touch

While I didn't enjoy Cal 2 or Chemistry at UNC, I loved my Cal 2 professor. He was phenomenally interested in math and he really had a passion for it. He would smile sometimes when he got excited during lecture or when I talked to him after class about math. I remember thinking a few times while talking to him: "why isn't this guy at an ivy?" I suppose I wasn't expecting to find someone like that at UNC. I had a great relationship with him and I was disappointed when the the semester ended because I wouldn't have him as a professor any more. That's the kind of connection I want to have with professors, and I was able to find it at UNC. And I think you could find it too: you're a hell of a lot more affable than me (probably has something to do with your cuteness).

I think the friends I've made at UNC (while their count may be low and their existence doubtable by skeptical girlfriends) were genuinely interested in math. Winston has been sending me little things he discovers since we met in the exact same way I send people things I discover. I found him at UNC, and he said he likes it there. He even told me that he thinks there's a place for students like me at UNC. And the guy who sits on my other side during class often asks the professor questions after lecture which I'm always eager to stick around for. I'll also never forget the day, early in the course, when a collection of a few of us all went to the professor after class and voiced our qualms with what we had learned today, which were implicative statements. That was the first time I found that I wasn't alone in asking the professor to explain something in more depth after class. So I'd say that my experience with the higher level math courses (discrete and to a decent degree multi with the limiting factor being the professor) have been very dissimilar to my experience with Cal 2 and Chemistry. The kids are more engaged and interested in the topic as they're either math, physics, or computer science majors.

I'd even go as far as to say that I've felt challenged by the kids in my class (especially in multi); especially this week, some of them see answers to questions I ask before I do, and some ask questions that I'm surprised I didn't think of. It's intimidating, actually, because the questions and answers are more general understanding than technical.

Also, I just wanted to let you know that I tallied the UNC Math professors by where they graduated and I found some surprising results: there were 37 total, 6 went to Berkeley, 3 went to Harvard, 1 went to UChicago, 1 went to Cal Tech, 2 went to NYU, 2 went to Princeton, 1 went to Yale, 1 went to Northwestern, 1 went to Cambridge, and 1 went to MIT. The 18 others went to other schools that you may be familiar with or I may be familiar with now as I tallied these at a collegiately naive time in my life; one when I thought that Columbia would be the best match for me :P

Hai, I'd like 4 years of stress, please.
All right, your total is $200,000.

Think about when you were on thanksgiving break. Didn't you love having the freedom to do what you wanted? Prior to the break, you made a list of the things you wanted to do when you had the time for them. And even after the break you hadn't crossed off every item, right? Do you think that going to hardworking school could force you to put the things you want to do on lists instead of today's agenda? To what extent would that bother you?

It seems like maintaining the grades you're comfortable with would be very difficult at MIT. Therefore the question arises: what if your determination worked against you, and obtaining these grades came at the expense of your social life or optional but equally valuable opportunities (clubs) in college? Perhaps another thing to be considered is control: at a hardworking school, the baseline is probably going to be set very high, and that may not allow you to take a step back when you really need one. And maybe working in college like you did all of high school may not be something you want?

Perhaps it'd be better to go to MIT for grad school as you'd be establishing great connections right before starting your career, instead of years in advance. Additionally, your time in grad school could potentially last longer than 4 years. And finally, in graduate school at MIT, you may be able to work in a researcher position to keep a low debt (or prevent one altogether) that you wouldn't be able to do in undergrad.

It seems to me that college is what you make of it, as is any opportunity. And I think that you have the determination to make your education great regardless of where you go. And I think Ms. Rotolo is a good example of that: she went to Penn State, right? But her passion for physics drove her to become one of, if not your favorite teacher.

Also, I think you it'd be good to ask yourself questions like these:

Joe Puccio and Tara Aida

While I think that UNC would have the resources you need to do well in whatever field you decide to study and I don't think that you'll ever feel limited by what they offer, I think you should regard me, at least, as someone with whom you can explore beyond the regular realm. I think you and I at the same school would enhance each of our experiences more than any other singular factor. I feel like we're more than just boyfriend and girlfriend as we can talk critically about society and explore math or physics together like I haven't been able to do with anyone else. I think that we teach each other (well, you teach me at least), and that we would do so much more often if we were to have more time together.

If we weren't going to the same college, I'm afraid that the remainder of our time together before the fall semester would be spent like the last 30 minutes of each of our hangouts: in sadness from being fully cognizant that our time together will soon come to an end. And I feel like the frustration from not seeing each other as often as is possible would amplify. I'm also afraid I'd be missing a unique period of your life, and I love being familiar with the intricacies of your life: your class schedule, your social problems, your female problems, your worries, your hopes. And I only want to be more involved.

We've talked about how, when we're together, all of the stressors in our lives just seem to fade away. It's such a remarkable experience to me as I feel completely content in those moments. I want to be able to have that as often as I can, and I think you do too. And another great thing is that we'd be done: we wouldn't have anything else hanging over our relationship to worry about; we would have finally connected the dots, and the future we want together would be there for the experiencing.

I'm absolutely, completely, and helplessly in love with you. And, as since we started dating, I want us to be together as often as possible. Even before we dated, I had made it a goal to see you as much as possible: even on our first unofficial date I was openly fixated on seeing you again, despite the fact that this attitude broke the conventional tango (which you, thankfully, never seemed to have any patience for) of covertly sending clues without being forward.

Going to the same school, I think the pressure we feel when we're together to do the things we can't do when we're not together would cease. I feel like I would be as happy as I was at Southpoint all the time because I would know that I'd be with you the next day. Instead of only seeing each other 8 hours a week, we could be only not seeing each other for 8 hours a week. We wouldn't have to wait for softball practice. We wouldn't have to worry about GGE going over. And best of all, we wouldn't have to worry about what your parents would allow.

You would always have me by your side, Tara, and something I'd love is that fact's commutativity (that you'd therefore always be by my side). We'd explore class options together. We'd introduce each other to new people. We'd sign up for math and physics clubs together. We'd blow off events together. We'd talk to professors together. We'd study together. We'd go to the library together. We'd eat meals together. All of which and much more is encompassed in the most happy-making phrase I've ever been able to conjure: we'd be together.

I want to let you know, though, that whatever you decide, I'll be there for you. I'll always love you. I'll always support you. And I'll always be proud of you.

I love you, Tara.