Autumn 2010: Of Note
A poker pro joins Emory’s most competitive freshman class
By Paige P. Parvin 96G
When Jonathan Schoder 14C decided to take a year off before starting college, he didn’t intend to become a card shark and make enough money to finance his Emory education.
Actually, he planned to hike the Appalachian Trail.
“I started out, and three weeks into it, my back gave out, and I had to stop and come back home,” says Schoder, who is from Ft. Lauderdale. “I needed to do something for about six months, and I needed to make some money, so I started playing poker for something like ten to twelve hours a day.”
With considerable experience playing poker in high school, Schoder quickly joined the ranks of regulars who meet at online high-stakes tables every day and night. Often he was playing eight to sixteen tables at once. In January, he even traveled to Australia to compete in the Aussie Millions poker tournament, the second-largest in the world. (Then he spent three months in New Zealand doing a National Outdoor Leadership Society course, so he managed to do some hiking after all.)
There’s a common notion that career poker players are both too lucky and too lazy to get a real job, but Schoder begs to differ.
“Poker at that level requires extreme mental focus for long periods of time,” he says. “You have to have a really strong math background, especially playing online, because you have to base all your decisions on math. It’s a lot of hard work.”
Schoder plans to major in business at Emory, although he liked the fact that here he can study liberal arts for two years before committing to business. He also was attracted to the emphasis on public service he found at Emory. “There is a great sense of community here and a focus on giving back to others after you graduate that I didn’t see at some of the other business programs,” he says.
Schoder’s poker face will no doubt serve him well in the business world, where he would eventually like to start his own company—possibly creating poker training videos. “A lot of the skills you learn at poker parallel with the business world,” he says. “Staying calm and thinking rationally, learning to manage money, understanding that nothing comes without hard work and dedication.”
If you’re wondering what Schoder’s parents think about his hobby, he says they have been very supportive. “They understand that it’s a skill-based game that you can generate revenue from,” he says. “And hopefully by the time I graduate, I will have earned enough to pay for college myself.”
Schoder joins one of the most academically competitive and diverse freshman classes in Emory’s history. In August, Emory College of Arts and Sciences welcomed 1,348 students chosen from a highly selective pool of 15,550 applicants.
The class—56 percent female and 44 percent male—hails from forty-seven states and beyond, with 17 percent of the students (both U.S. and non-U.S. citizens) representing twenty-four countries outside of the United States. Almost two-fifths of the class hails from the Southeast, with about 20 percent from the Mid-Atlantic region and the rest spread among the West, Southwest, Midwest, and New England.
Academically, the freshman class earned an average GPA of 3.84 in high school. Their median SAT score is 1399 for the combined critical reading and math sections. The number of students for whom Emory is the top choice also remained high: Early decision applicants make up 38 percent of the class.
“We had an exceptional applicant pool of students this year who expressed strong interest in joining the Emory community,” says Jean Jordan, dean of admission. “They were attracted to Emory’s engaged learning opportunities in research, internships, and study abroad, as well as our commitment to service where nine out of ten students volunteer during their time here.”
Oxford College welcomed nearly 550 first-year students. In the class, Oxford’s largest ever, 54 percent are from outside the Southeast and represent thirty-eight states and twenty nations.
Nearly nine of ten students who enroll in Emory College will graduate in four years. Nearly six in ten of those will pursue graduate or professional school studies within three years of their college graduation.