The $1.2 million man
Soichi Hayashi, a star soccer player and top student at Gresham High School, is an attractive prospect for many colleges. So, the 17 year-old senior threw a wide net, applying to 32 colleges and garnering $1.2 million in scholarships from the institutions.
"I play soccer and I'm really passionate about the sport, (but) recruiting was not the best this year because of COVID," he explained.
So with soccer programs in mind, Hayashi, known as Rey around school, decided to apply to as many institutions as he could and see what happened. He applied to a range of schools from Ohio State University to The Pennsylvania State University to a collection of colleges on the West Coast.
He was accepted into 28 of the 32 schools and his merit grants totaled $1.2 million. Because the scholarships were from the institutions, they can only be used at those colleges, so Hayashi doesn't have a $1.2 million kitty to spend at any college.
His teachers are not surprised at his success.
"Soichi (Rey) is one of only four students at Gresham High this year completing Gresham's International Baccalaureate Full Diploma program," said Alan Simpson, coordinator of the rigorous college-level IB program and a math teacher.
In addition to "taking and succeeding in the most difficult and rigorous array of classes we have to offer," Simpson praised Hayashi's "quiet intelligence and easy going attitude about it all."
Simpson said "he brings a smile every day, and even when tough times hit (his knee injury in soccer), he shows up the next day hoping to help. He is an All-American Kid in the very best sense, and an amazing representative of our community."
Hayashi was born in Reno, Nevada, where the family lived for six years. The family then moved back to his parent's birthplace, Japan, for eight years and Hayashi lived and attended school outside Tokyo.
Describing his family situation as "complicated," Hayashi returned to the United States at age 14, and lived with host families in Gresham for several years until his mother and younger sister came to live in the area.
Although Hayashi favors the American education system, he said the respect that teachers are shown in Japan became an asset for him when he moved back to the U.S. for school.
"The element of respect was something I have learned in Japan, and by being respectful, I was able to maintain a great relationship with my teachers, ultimately not being afraid to ask any question or (air) any concern I had," he said.
Hayashi carries a 4.0 grade point average and counts Spanish and history as his favorite classes. He picked up a special citation at a recent regional science fair, "Taking the Pulse of the Planet" sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
He plans to major in political science in college and dreams of playing soccer professionally.
"I'm keeping all my options open," he said.
By any measure, 32 college applications is a lot. Statistics vary, but most show that about a quarter of students apply to only one college, about half apply to between two and four colleges and only 4% of students apply to ten or more colleges.
College applications cost money, $43 on average, and can take a lot of time and energy to complete. Since Hayashi and his sister qualify for reduced-price lunches, the colleges waived the application fees, so cost was not a barrier.
His final choice? Hayashi will attend University of California San Diego.
"I took the virtual tour and it felt like the right place for me," he said. He also clicked with the soccer coach, he added.
UC San Diego did not award Hayashi any scholarship money.
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