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This college-signing day is for academics
This college-signing day is for academics
By SUE HOFFMAN
Solon High School seniors George Zhao, Bobby Unger and Lila Shtull will be heading in different directions next fall. George will be going to Columbia University in New York City, Bobby to Duke University in Durham, N.C., and Lila to the University of Arizona in Tuscon.
They were among hundreds of seniors at the high school who participated in college signing day last Friday. Fashioned after the events when high school athletes sign letters of intent to play sports in colleges, the special day allows seniors to have their photo taken while signing a certificate indicating where they will attend college. The certificates have been posted in the school.
Although not all students had made their final decision, May 1 is the traditional day to make a commitment to the college of their choice, guidance department chairwoman Anne Johns said.
The guidance staff said 2010 is a record year for admission of Solon seniors to Ivy League and other top colleges. However, decisions should be based on more than a name, they said.
"For us, it's all about the match," guidance counselor Peggy Toaz said. "That's the school that best fits the student's needs."
For him, Columbia's school of engineering does just that, said George, who's co-captain of the Science Olympiad team and a member of the speech and debate and future problem-solving teams. He said he appreciated the financial aid Columbia offered him, and loves the campus and New York City.
"I went there during spring break and stayed overnight," said George, one of the top 15 students in grade-point average in his class. "That helped with my decision."
Bobby, another student in the top 15 and an alto sax player in school bands and his own combo, said he chose Duke over several prestigious colleges. They included Tufts University near Boston, Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., Washington University in St. Louis and Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.
"The academics are top-notch, there are lots of research opportunities and it's a great atmosphere," Bobby, who's interested in evolutionary anthropology, said about Duke. "It's somewhere I want to be for the next four years."
"I always wanted to be where it was warm and sunny," said Lila, who will be a pre-med student at the University of Arizona. The university also gave her a scholarship for about half the tuition and a computer, she said.
Lila, who has been in choir and student council and taught crafts for three years in the Saturday Enrichment Program, said she visited the university during spring break of 2009. "I'm excited," she said.
Financial aid certainly helps in decision making, several students said. Charles Thomas has received a full scholarship through the U.S. Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps at Miami University in Oxford, where he plans to major in nuclear engineering.
Charles, who has been captain of the cross country team, president of the Young Conservatives Club and an Eagle Scout, said his decision also was aided by his older brother, Stephen, who is a student at Miami. "He likes it," Charles said.
Collin Thomas, who was in drama club, will be studying biology and possibly minor in graphic arts at the University of Cincinnati, where he received a full scholarship. He also was accepted at Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Illinois in Chicago.
"Dad's an alumnus of UC," he said, which helped him make his decision.
Olivia Scicolone said she received substantial aid from Yale University, in New Haven, Conn., where she will major in theater arts. The Ivy League college also had the excellent program she was looking for.
Olivia said she had to decide between a concentrated theater program at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, leading to a bachelor of fine arts, and a liberal arts education at Yale, which offered more flexibility.
Attending the Chagrin Falls Performing Arts Academy this year, Olivia had the role of Masha in the academy's production of "The Three Sisters" last weekend.
For some students, location was important.
Michael Guastella, who was diagnosed with leukemia the summer before his junior year, will attend Kent State University and plans to live at home at first. Now in remission, he continues to receive treatment at the Cleveland Clinic.
"It's a great school," he said about Kent. "I'm fortunate to live where there are so many good colleges."
Michael, who has been in drama club and band, had to receive his schooling through home instruction tutors during his junior year. "I'm here for my senior year and graduating on time."
Ali Furlong, who played clarinet in the marching band, said the Ohio State University in Columbus, is "close enough and far enough. I'll be able to see my Solon friends." She plans to study education.
Several students were recruited for sports teams.
Conner Paez, a top student who was state runner-up in cross country, will be on the cross country team for the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
"I wanted to go to a good academic school and a Division I school where I could run," said Conner, who was accepted at Penn early decision in December. He said he liked the coach and the urban setting as well.
Several other athletes signed certificates. Anthony Tomasone, a catcher on the Comets team, was recruited by Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa., to play baseball. Shaun Riddle has been recruited to play soccer at East Tennessee State University. Brittany Merner will play softball at Northwood University in Midland, Mich.
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