Profile: Taking the Structured Approach

Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Magnet High School grads tell their stories, dish out admissions tips.

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"I'm very Type A," Jake Rudin says. To get into architecture school, Jake built himself a strong foundation—solid student, athlete, Green Club copresident. He applied to six schools: two reach schools (Cornell, Carnegie Mellon), two targets (Syracuse, Rensselaer Polytechnic), and two safeties (Penn State, Tennessee), and got into all. He was leaning to Cornell when his mother became ill, jeopardizing the family's income. Both of his targets offered generous financial packages; Cornell's offer, which came through in late April, sealed the deal.

GPA: 3.98 unweighted

SAT scores: 710 math, 780 critical reading, 690 writing

Extracurrics: Soccer, architecture internship, Green Club

Essay topic: How to respond when someone asks, "Why architecture?"

Of the process: Expected it would consist of completing generic paperwork. "Instead, it's really all about my personal experience. The colleges want to know how you view yourself."

Organizational help: His guidance counselor set an October 31 deadline for submitting college apps.

Biggest surprise: Getting into all the schools. "It's really hard not to underestimate yourself."

Hardest part: Compiling his portfolio. He found it tough being judged on his work as a teen.

Why visit: Carnegie Mellon seemed "very small"; Jake realized it wasn't for him.

Web rec: School info at TheU.com

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