New York City
March 2003

Intel and Civil Air Patrol: For Self and College
by Katarzyna Kozanecka

A 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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