How I Got to College: Zachary Sciuto

Here's how this Massachusetts high schooler chose to attend Syracuse University.

Zachary Sciuto, a graduate of Somerville High School near Boston, opted for Syracuse University.

Zachary Sciuto, a graduate of Somerville High School near Boston, opted for Syracuse University.

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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.

A wide receiver whose heart was set on "a big Division I school," Zachary Sciuto applied early decision and got into one of his reaches, Syracuse University (as well as his safety, Fisher College in Boston). He was denied by Boston College and Northeastern University. Sciuto believes his essay about working as a trash collector for the city ("instead of a sad story, I put humor into it") and the care he took on the short-answer questions helped him impress SU.

His SATs weren't great, he says, but he had a solid GPA, took AP courses, "stayed in the honors program throughout high school," and played up being a three-sport athlete, having an interest in piano, and his work as a camp counselor. He plans to walk on for football tryouts.

GPA: 3.1 unweighted

SAT scores: 530 math, 470 critical reading, 440 writing

Extracurriculars: Member of the football, indoor track, and baseball teams; community service, including helping clean up the Charles River and assisting at elementary school track meets

Surprise: "It wasn't stressful." He avoided angst by finishing his essay and nailing down his recommendations by the end of junior year, and wrapped up the entire process by late September.

Money move: Spent an hour a day on scholarship and financial aid applications until he felt he had it covered.

Advice: "Don't slack off," he says. And don't let costs deter you from applying. Thanks to this tip from his English teacher, he says, he's headed to his dream school with grants and scholarships that cover all but about $10,000 of the $55,000 cost.

More Somerville High School student profiles:

Wriju Adhikary

Tania Ahmed

Zoe Blickenderfer

Michael Kemp

Norman Li

Johnson Thomas

Julia Zoukhri

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