Selective thinking – RHS student has offers from three Ivies, MIT

One Ivy League college offer is something to jump up in the air about.

Two offers is another reason to celebrate.

But when one gets three Ivy League offers and an open invitation from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), things have gone from a celebration to a very difficult decision.

That’s exactly the happy boat that Beachmont’s Teresa Santiano-McHatton – a senior at Revere High School (RHS) – finds herself in during this week’s Spring Vacation Week.

Santiano-McHatton – who has been the top student in her class for the last four years and is the front-runner for this year’s valedictorian – has had offers from Princeton University, Columbia University, Brown University and MIT, among seven others.

“I thought the decision would be a financial aid package deal, but they all gave me the same amount of financial aid,” said Santiano-McHatton. “So, that didn’t help me at all. I’ll have to see the atmosphere and how I feel after I visit all the schools…I’m going to visit Princeton and Columbia this weekend, but I just visited MIT and I’m leaning towards it right now.”

Santiano-McHatton is the daughter of Bill and Debbie McHatton of Leverett Avenue.

She is involved in all three-track seasons and also participates in the InterAct Club, the Spanish Honor Society and the National Honor Society.

A proud Beachmont resident, noting that she attended elementary and middle school at Beachmont, she said that she wants to major in Environmental Engineering – a branch of Civil Engineering.

That love of the environment is something that she inherited from living just steps away from the ocean and a stone’s throw away from Revere Beach.

“I always had an interest in this,” she said. “I should have known I wanted to go into this. I wrote in my college essay that the Beach was really what influenced me and drew my interest to [Environmental Engineering]…It’s a field you can make a difference in and you can see the difference you make.”

She said the process for choosing a college has been very stressful, especially on top of the difficult classes she takes at RHS. She advised younger students to start the process early.

“It is very difficult,” she said. “If there are young students reading this, I suggest they start early. I was a little late in starting and that made things stressful. Start doing college tours in the summer. Once you see a school, you know if you want to go there or not.”

For Santiano-McHatton and the rest of the RHS senior class, college decision day is May 1, and traditionally Spring Vacation Week has been the time when such choices have been finalized.

RHS Guidance Director Maureen Lenihan said she is very proud of this year’s senior class.

She noted that Santiano-McHatton’s acceptance to Princeton is very unique.

“It’s happened only once before at RHS,” she said.

This year, she said, there are no students on the list at Harvard or Yale, but there are a lot of other good destinations for the Class of 2010.

“I’m satisfied with these acceptances in this year’s class,” said Lenihan. “There’s not a school missing from the list and there are some very good schools our kids are getting into.”

Among the schools beyond Santiano-McHatton’s acceptances are Bucknell College (PA), Boston College, Providence College, Emerson College, Brandeis University, Hamilton College, New York University, Syracuse University, Wheaton College and Union College.

Lenihan said that for students heading to community college and other local colleges, those institutions have changed the way they connect with students.

Lenihan said that Bunker Hill, Bay State and Pine Manor College all have held application sessions at the high school to meet with students. That, said Lenihan, has assisted a lot of students overwhelmed with the idea of college.

“This has helped those kids a lot,” said Lenihan. “Many of them didn’t think they could go to college and now they can. For some it’s overwhelming getting to Bunker Hill and getting all the documents together. Instead, these institutions came here and the kids made appointments and got through the process.”

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