- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 27, 2014

CENTERVILLE, Ind. (AP) - It started with a telephone call Austin Sams didn’t take too seriously.

A private counseling company that helps high school students get into college called him to see if he would be interested in paying for their service. They asked him where he’d like to go and he offhandedly answered, “Harvard.”

He’d had high PSAT scores, and when Sams did well on the ACT, he began to seriously consider what at first had seemed like an outlandish comment.

His family didn’t pay for help getting Sams into Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He did that all on his own with the support of family, teachers and administrators at Centerville High School, where he graduated in May.

He is one of about 2,000 chosen for Harvard admission from among 34,295 applicants, according to Harvard’s website.

No one has really kept track, but it is believed by Centerville teachers and administrators that Sams is the first Bulldog to attend the Ivy League school.

“I don’t think it’s hit me yet,” Sams told the Palladium-Item (http://pinews.co/1vRaSir ). “It’s definitely surreal.”

With Sams’ interest piqued, he and his parents, Marcelle and Mindy Sams, did an Ivy League college tour during Centerville High School’s fall break last October. They visited Harvard, Brown, Yale, MIT and Princeton.

Harvard was the first stop, and Sams spent the day, and night, with a freshman attending classes and activities, meeting students and professors.

“I really loved the people I met,” he said. “I really felt more at home there than I have anywhere else for a long time.”

Up to that point, Sams was entertaining the idea of Harvard, but imagined he would end up attending Washington University in St. Louis, in part because he has family nearby.

But after setting foot in Harvard’s dorms and classrooms, he was eager to try his hand at early application.

On the day in December that each applicant was supposed to learn by email whether they were accepted or not, Sams received no emails from Harvard.

A half-hour before the admissions office was to close, he called to make sure all the emails had been sent. They had.

A helpful woman confirmed his identity and asked if he wanted her to tell him his results.

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