and Civil Air Patrol: For Self and College
Stuyvesant High School student walks into a bar. He asks the bartender,
Do you need someone to wash glasses? Play the piano? Or maybe
you’ll let me observe your establishment for a month? I’m writing
a social science Intel paper about the effectiveness of holding
Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in bars.
This joke exaggerates a little the eagerness of Stuyvesant students
to build up their credentials in the hope of gaining admission
to America’s best colleges and universities.
At Stuyvesant, college preparation and admissions are top priorities.
The process begins in freshman fall, when a guidance counselor
lays out a plan for standardized testing. Over the next seven
terms, students join teams, clubs, and publications, do community
service, and take college-level Advanced Placement (AP) courses.
They spend summers traveling, working, or volunteering.
Many of the seniors of the class of 2003 have been fortunate in
that their academic work and extracurricular activities have made
them happy, first, and gotten them into their dream schools, second.
Senior Joel Lewis, who will receive his admissions decision on
April 1, joined Math Team as a freshman. By junior year he had
become a captain. This year, he is one of three Stuyvesant Intel
finalists. His winning paper, titled “Analysis of a Vector Game,”
strongly echoes his interest in mathematics.
Participants and non-participants alike extol the virtues of Intel.
Senior José Soltren, who was admitted to the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology (MIT) in December, said, “Intel is a chance to do
useful work, as opposed to school work, which is just for a grade.”
Many Intel projects deal with recent scientific discoveries and
theories, and Intel winners have been known to go on to win Nobel
Prizes in medicine and other fields.
In talking to Stuyvesant students, one quickly draws up rules
of thumb for increasing chances of college admission. The most
important is to do what one loves. (Sports teams count.) The next
is to participate in competitions that reflect one’s passions.
Intel is such a competition. Other examples are national language
exams and creative writing contests, many of which carry the added
boon of scholarship money.
However, too much exploration can be interpreted as fickleness
and lack of focus. It is better for students to dedicate themselves
to three posts or activities than to belong to twenty clubs and
publications and contribute minimally to each.
Colleges also like to see that applicants have taken advantage
of all available resources. Senior Emily Firetog, Photography
Editor of The Stuyvesant Spectator, also runs Caliper, Stuyvesant’s
Literary Magazine, and organizes the school’s monthly Open Mic.
Soltren has outgrown Stuyvesant’s math department so he takes
classes at New York University.
Senior Nick Kasatkin’s preparation for college has been slightly
different. He serves as a Cadet Captain in the Civil Air Patrol.
Next year, he hopes to join the United States Navy.#
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