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How I Got to College: Michael Kemp

Here's how this Massachusetts high schooler chose to attend Wentworth Institute of Technology.

Michael Kemp, a graduate of Somerville High School near Boston, opted for Wentworth Institute of Technology.

Michael Kemp, a graduate of Somerville High School near Boston, opted for Wentworth Institute of Technology.

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This spring, U.S. News visited Somerville High School near Boston to ask members of the Class of 2012 to talk about their journeys to college and pass on any helpful advice.

Somerville is home to a mix of blue-collar families, young professionals, college students, and recent immigrants. The school's 1,324 students speak more than 50 languages; about one third are white, just over another third are Hispanic, and African-Americans and Asians account for most of the rest. The graduation rate is 81 percent; 77 percent of grads go on to college. In the last school year, 129 students took 160 AP exams. Hear from grads on how they got in.

When he was in sixth grade in New Hampshire, Michael Kemp was in a car accident that killed his mother and left him in a coma for two months with a traumatic brain injury. He recovered, worked hard in rehab, and refused special education opportunities, though "I was reserved and withdrawn."

Going to high school in Somerville, where he lives with his aunt and grandmother, "definitely changed that," says Kemp, who "always imagined myself going to college." He delved into music (playing trombone and guitar) and computers, and volunteered as a yard worker at a local campground and a trombonist in his church orchestra.

He applied to four colleges, hoping to pursue computer science and possibly game design. Wait-listed at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, he got into University of Massachusetts—Amherst, University of Massachusetts—Boston, and Boston's Wentworth Institute of Technology—which he picked.

GPA: 3.65 unweighted

SAT scores: 610 math, 550 critical reading, 700 writing

Extracurriculars: School band, community service club, drama club, and National Honor Society; altar server at his church

Essay topic: How recovering from his accident has made him want to work hard in college and life

Do-over: If he could do anything differently, he says, "I would have looked at more schools."

Boost: Taking Visual Basic, computer repair, Java AP, and other computer classes in high school

Hardest part: The financial aid and scholarship applications. All the work paid off, however: Grants and scholarships will cover about two thirds of Went­worth's $45,000 annual tab, while he'll cover the rest upfront or with loans.

Advice: Get a reality check on the schools you decide to apply to by talking to people who attend or graduated from them.

More Somerville High School student profiles:

Wriju Adhikary

Tania Ahmed

Zoe Blickenderfer

Norman Li

Zachary Sciuto

Johnson Thomas

Julia Zoukhri

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