Ivy-bound students reveal their tips

An insider into how these students were accepted into the nation’s top universities with full scholarships

As you may know, four students from Curtis High School have been accepted into Ivy League schools through early decision. Lots of commitment and effort was put into every part of the admission process. It certainly is not impossible to achieve these goals and receive scholarships and offers from Ivy League Schools, however, it’s imperative that you make the most out of your high school years and make every opportunity count. All five of these students are perfect examples of how you can do it too. 

Sebastian David, captain of the boys swim team, was accepted on a full ride scholarship to Columbia University. He applied to seven schools through Questbridge and said the application process was very competitive and he wished he could have applied earlier. His letters of recommendation were provided by Ms. Mattina and Ms. Jackson. He states that it’s very important to have a good relationship with teachers since they are the ones you will look to for letters of recommendation. He did many extracurriculars including participating and being the president of the Science in Focus Club. He was involved in internships during the summer with CUNY and NASA. He shadowed doctors and surgeons and oversaw the biological aspect of their job. He also advocated in many organizations in the Hispanic Community. “…I personally had an interest for science but for students who are undecided, I think they should kind of let their passion take over…”. He said that a balance between school and outside activities is extremely important. “Make sure you’re well-rounded. Not everything is about grades, not everything is about being the best.” Sebastian advises students to focus on their passion and keep a healthy balance between things. He also advises to start the application process early so you are not rushed.  A good score on the SAT is also important.

Cooper Keane was also accepted to Columbia University. He applied to about 11 to 12 schools through Questbridge and said the application process was stressful and made him indecisive. He also said that he should have started the application process early since other duties like school got in the way of completing the application. His letters of recommendation were provided by Mr. Basso and Ms. Francis, the counselor of the IB program. He was also involved in the Science in Focus Club and did many things to help the community like teaching disabled kids archery and already participating in archery himself at Columbia. He also did a research internship over the summer at the National Museum of History and took great interest in it. “Everything you do can’t just be about you. It also has to be about helping other people, contributing to the community…” He also says that he genuinely enjoyed doing service for the community and didn’t do it just for the application. “It’s not just about having high grades,” Cooper advises students to manage their time wisely and take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way and most importantly, be serious about your goals and passions. 

Emilee Jospey, captain of the robotics team, was accepted on a full ride scholarship to Yale University. She applied to many CUNY, private schools, and other Ivy Leagues. She also said that the application was very convoluted and was difficult to put together. Emilee used Questbridge for her application process and here’s what she said about it “I think that with any college, you should be putting in an equal amount of effort no matter the level of competitiveness or acceptance rate.” She also said that she should have started earlier when applying for colleges and wishes she had done more research. She says that the stress and rigor  of IB  made the process more stressful so it’s important to maintain a balance. Additionally, Emilee was involved in many sports and activities like swimming and golf and was also involved in Curtis’ clubs such as the Science in Focus Club, Robotics and Key Club. She points out the fact that there might be so many opportunities  that we don’t know about. Her take on this was: “Definitely take advantage of things and ask! The most beneficial thing is probably to seek help…ask for help” Emilee also thinks that anyone has the potential to get accepted into an ivy league school if they have the drive, will, passion, confidence and dedication to do so. She also believes that mental health is also a big part of school and it’s important to step back and check on it frequently. When Emilee was asked what was special about her application she said that it was her college essays. “Something that should be setting you apart is your college essay. I think that’s super important.” She also advises students to manage their time, ask for help and clarification and think about things early. 

Our Student Body president, Omosefe Noruwa, was accepted to Harvard University. She started off with Harvard on her application and a few other schools. She described the process as surprisingly simple compared to other colleges that asked for many essays. She got  her letters of recommendation from Mr. Cogan, Ms. Pillarella, and the Superintendent of Staten Island schools. When asked what she could have done differently she said, “I just feel like there were a lot of times where I knew I could do it and I was confident but there are other times where I would unnecessarily stress.” Omosefe did many extracurricular activities including being the student body president, president of Key Club from her Freshman to Junior year, and she ran the Neuroscientist Club and association. She also played tennis and did many internships and programs throughout her four years. Omosefe is the C.E.O of her company, Promote Minority Education, that helps provide free tutoring for high school students. She’s currently partnering up with three other public schools and had the opportunity to ask the Mayor of New York City to sponsor her company. She thinks that her sponsorship from Mayor Eric Adams played a major role in her application. “Don’t just waste your summer. Do a bunch of programs…You don’t have to apply to a bunch of rigorous programs. All they want to see is interest.” 

“QuestBridge is a powerful platform that connects the nation’s brightest students from low-income backgrounds with leading institutions of higher education and further opportunities. We are an aggregator of excellence. By facilitating these exchanges, QuestBridge aims to increase the percentage of talented low-income students attending the nation’s best universities and the ranks of national leadership itself.”