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 Wriju Adhikary was 7, her family emigrated from Nepal to Somerville to find work and escape violence. She set her sights on college from a young age, and began the legwork in earnest junior year by starting her essay. She got into eight of 10 schools: Allegheny College in Pennsylvania; Goucher College in Maryland; Clark University, Wheaton College, Simmons College, and University of Massachusetts—Amherst in state; University of Vermont; and University of New Hampshire. (She missed out at University of Connecticut and Northeastern University.)
Adhikary opted for Clark, for pre-med and biotechnology, because it's close to home and awarded her a "great financial package" that will cover all but $9,000 of the $45,000 bill. She'll have to take $2,000 in loans the first year and will cover the rest with her parents' help and by working.
GPA: 3.5 unweighted
SAT scores: 500 math, 550 critical reading, 620 writing
Extracurriculars: Member of the varsity tennis team, community service club, math club, South Asia club, and ultimate Frisbee team; babysitter and math and science tutor
Essay topic: Adapting to culture change as a child
Boost: She liked the "Let's Get Ready" program, which helps students manage the application process, from choosing colleges to SAT prep.
Organizational tool: Used a calendar to organize the time she spent on applications.
Advice: Do enough SAT prep. She suggests an hour a day starting a few weeks before test day.
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