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Lets Get Ready Builds Bridges to College

Scarsdale resident Stephen Karotkin, Board Member and Philanthroposit for Let’s Get Ready (LGR) was honored at their annual benefit on Tuesday night April 27 at Guastavino’s in Manhattan. Now in it’s 12th year, Let’s Get Ready provides SAT tutoring and support for low-income students striving to attend college. Founded in 1998 by Jeannie Lang Rosenthal of Scarsdale, the group has grown from a single site in Mount Vernon to 58 programs that are on track to serve 2,300 students in 2010. College students serve as teachers and mentors helping with test preparation, college selection, and applications for college, financial aid and scholarships.

LGR has been successful; SAT scores of those who attend their program increase by an average of 112 points and 90% go directly onto college. In the past 12 years, LGR has assisted 9,000 students in need to go through the college process and 75% of the students were the first in their families to go on to college.

On Tuesday night, over 500 people turned out to support Let’s Get Ready and to thank Stephen Karotkin, the event co-chairs and the Board of Directors. From Scarsdale, Priscilla Natkins chairs the Board of Directors and college senior Emily Lampert serves on the Board.  Lisa and Andy Rodman were one of the couples chairing Monday night's event. As it costs $500 to take each student through the process, the proceeds from the benefit will go a long way to helping more to realize their dreams. To learn more and get involved, visit: http://www.letsgetready.org/

Many more Scarsdalians are active in the organization or enthusiastic supporters;
Check them out:

Wait List A Blessing or a Curse

Jacques Steinberg, author of The Gatekeepers, and moderator of the New York Times’ College Choice blog, noted in his recent article (Few Find Hope on Waiting List at Top Colleges, New York Times, April 14, 2010) that Duke University had placed 3,382 students on its waiting list for the Class of 2014. This number represents almost twice the number of students expected to matriculate in the fall. What accounts for this explosion in the number of students on the waiting list this year? Several factors may contribute to this phenomenon. More students are applying to more colleges than ever before. In years past, students applied to 8-10 colleges, but now that number often approaches 12-15 applications. Colleges must review many more applications within the same three-month time frame. Often, students apply to colleges within a narrow band of selectivity. It stands to reason, then, that there will be many potential cross-admits. Therefore, colleges may have a harder time predicting their yield, or the number of students that actually accept an offer of admission and matriculate in the fall.

Christopher Guttentag, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions at Duke, admitted to the NY Times that, “Another reason the list is so long this year, is that he and his colleagues were so overwhelmed by the volume of applicants that they ran out of time.” According to that article, students, at least on Duke’s waiting list, are not ranked. Dean Guttentag explained that the waiting list would be used, if necessary, “…to finish sculpting the class.” “From an institutional perspective, it’s important that I have some flexibility.” What this really means is that if there is a surfeit of students who have declared their intent to study English, a college may pluck a prospective math major off its waiting list. Or, in the classic example, if the orchestra has graduated its last bassoonist, and no double reed players accept an offer of admission, that college will go to the waiting list to fill that institutional need. This appears to confirm the worst nightmare of a waitlisted applicant – that there really is little chance of being admitted.

What does this mean for the student whose applications have yielded one or more waitlist offers? As with many other aspects of the college application process, the answer is, it depends. If the student’s personality allows him to keep his options open –assuming that doing so does not violate the stated policy of a school he accepts in the interim – then he should keep his name on the waiting list and hope for the best.

What would you do?

If you choose to accept a place on a college’s waiting list, and many colleges require you to be proactive to do so, there are things you can do to try and increase your odds of being plucked from the list. Let the school know you truly want to go there. Send an honest letter telling them why that school should choose you. Provide any meaningful updates to the information in your file. If you know in advance that you will definitely attend, if admitted, tell that to admissions. Just know the odds are not in your favor. Safia Khan, a student at Cary Academy in Chapel Hill, NC explained, in a NYT editorial (April 15, 2010), that students of her generation excel at waiting, and notes, “Whether we like it or not, rejection is a reality – and we should learn to live with it before graduating into the working world. Eventually, we need a straight answer from the grown-ups who decide our fates.”

Many students, cognizant of the few places offered to students on waiting lists in any given year, prefer to just move on and plan their future at the school that has accepted and wants them now. Our advice: be realistic, and do what feels right to you. If you can handle the continued uncertainty, accept a spot on the waiting list of the school of your dreams and be patient. But, if you’d rather look ahead, and focus on the future, send in your deposit to the school you will attend, order your hoodie and look forward to move-in day.

Leslie Berkovits, Collegistics LLC
Collegistics LLC provides comprehensive services to students and parents who are embarking on, or in the midst of, the college application process. Providing families the benefit of seven advisors, Collegistics uses a team approach, offering the kind of practical and emotional support that results in an informed and less stressful college application experience. If you have any questions about the college process you would like to see addressed in future issues, email: info@collegistics.com or call: (914) 722-6050. Please visit our website at www.collegistics.com for further information.

Exciting Decisions

From start to finish, the college process is filled with making decisions. In the beginning, there are decisions about high school course selections, extracurricular activity choices, standardized test options, and particular schools that comprise an individualized college list.

When admissions notices are finally sent, there are, hopefully, many choices and the most important decisions left to make. This may be a good time to revisit those schools at the top of the list. Considerations such as campus setting, fields of study offered, distance from home, and even the weather, should be weighed again now that final possibilities must be narrowed down.

Wait-list and deferral options are perhaps the most challenging decisions with which to grapple. A student who is still certain about his or her first choice school should respond quickly to that college with a note confirming continued interest. New information available since the application was submitted, such as additional grades or accomplishments, should be forwarded to the college as enhancements to the original application. Waiting for final decisions to be made can seem endless and may even prove disappointing in the end. On the other hand, the time spent to methodically review options may be the best path to a favorite school. In retrospect, the time will seem fleeting.

In reality, there are many schools where students would be happy and the percentage of students ultimately pleased with their final selections is high. Keeping an open mind and demonstrating patience will lead to four rewarding and exciting years ahead.

Collegistics LLC provides comprehensive services to students and parents who are embarking on, or in the midst of, the college application process. Providing families the benefit of seven advisors, Collegistics uses a team approach, offering the kind of practical and emotional support that results in an informed and less stressful college application experience. If you have any questions about the college process you would like to see addressed in future issues, email info@collegistics.com or call (914)722-6050.  Please visit our website at www.collegistics.com for further information.

Scarsdale Boy Savagely Attacked Near B.U.

Charlie Katz, the BU student who was assaulted last weekend in Allston, Mass has sent the following clarification to the story that appears below: (From Charlie) In response to questions from readers, the incident was entirely unprovoked. There were 20-25 kids loitering in the street, and six attacked me. After the attack, I regained consciousness and walked back to my apartment in Brookline to clean up the cuts. When I got home I realized that the cuts were severe and that I needed stitches. I woke up my roommate and asked him to take me to the hospital where they performed cat-scans and then transferred me to Beth Israel.

I also want to stress that many students from Scarsdale who attend BU live in Allston and parents should be aware of the danger, and seek alternatives such as on campus housing or off campus housing in Brookline. BU is a great school and if I had it to do again, I wouldn’t go anywhere else.

Charlie Katz, a 2006 graduate of Scarsdale High School and a senior at Boston University was viciously beaten early Saturday morning April 3rd around 1:30 am after he left a party a few blocks from his apartment near the University. Katz and his roommate attended an 80’s theme party in Allston, at the home of some friends. While walking home on Gardner Road in Allston, the two boys were approached by a few black youths who started to taunt them. Charlie urged his roommate to run, when 20 to 25 kids emerged out of the shadows and surrounded them. Katz was jumped, thrown into the road and kicked in the head repeatedly by the gang who were all wearing boots. The assailants left Katz curled into a fetal position and unconscious in the street.

When he came to, his immediate impulse was to flee and he somehow managed to get back to his apartment. His roommate considered calling an ambulance but decided it would be faster to put him into the car. He took him to the emergency room at Mt. Auburn hospital where doctors saw bleeding in the brain and transferred him to the Beth Israel Hospital neurology unit for an M.R.I. He was kept in traction for two days, as doctors feared he also had suffered injuries to his spinal cord. His jaw was broken and his neck, ear and arm were injured. His roommate had been kicked in the mouth and lost his teeth. He was traumatized by the attack as well.

According to Katz’s mother Lisa, the attackers did not even take her son’s wallet or phone. They simply beat him.

No police report was filed by either hospital at the time and officials at Boston University were unaware of the incident. Lisa went to Boston to take care of her son and to investigate what had happened. When Charlie was released from the hospital on Sunday, even though he was weak she insisted that he accompany her to the Allston Police. With her bruised son by her side, she sought to explain that he had been attacked and found the police to be hostile and dismissive. From her observations Mrs. Katz feels that there were racial overtones to the assault and the police response. The police implied that Charlie had provoked the attack and told Mrs. Katz “there must be something more to this story. These kids get drunk and belligerent.” The official report, drafted by the Allston Police on Sunday, made it sound as if Charlie and his roommate had started the fight. When the mother of the roommate went to Allston police, she got a similar reception.

Officials at Boston University were reserved in their response. Mrs. Katz was sent from one official to the next, and little was done to get answers. To her, it appeared that this was not the first time a B.U. student had been attacked, but it seemed as if the school was keeping it quiet. No one called Mrs. Katz or Charlie to express concern or inquire about Charlie’s well being. She recommended that the school warn the student body that gangs were in the area, preying on college students.

The Katz family has asked Scarsdale10583.com to post the story in an effort to warn other students and to encourage Boston University to take measures to protect the student body. In the meantime, Charlie is in bad shape and it will take months for him to recover.

The Gorges of Cornell University

Perhaps you have heard about the latest round of deaths at Cornell University. Unfortunately this year’s string of deaths are only the latest in a long tradition of suicides in Ithaca. Rob Fishman, a 2004 graduate of Scarsdale High School and a 2008 Cornell University graduate began to look into this Cornell phenomenon when he was a student at the Columbia Journalism School last year. Prompted by the reports of the three latest jumps at his Alma Mater, Rob has written this history of Cornell, the bridges and the unfortunate deaths. Now an employee at the Huffington Post, Rob first published the story there, and you can read the entire piece by clicking on the link at the end of this introductory section to the article.

It was hardly the weather for a suicide. Students had gathered at Collegetown Bagels — a popular watering hole on days like October 8, 2008, when the Ithaca sun makes an unseasonable appearance — and from the outdoor patio, you could make out the lofty spire of McGraw Tower, poised now to chime two o'clock. At one minute before the hour, a pair of students crossed the stone bridge to class, the college town behind them, Cornell University ahead, and the deep gorge ninety feet below.

Across the street, an elderly woman was coming the other way. A lanky man in a navy track jacket walked briskly a few paces behind, his face obscured by a white cap. Back in town, a sophomore was feeding a parking meter, when she saw something from the corner of her eye. The man had stepped onto the bridge's western parapet. "I can't look!" someone ahead exclaimed. Up on the bridge, the older woman turned to find anyone who had just seen what she'd seen.

By the time the dean of students, Kent Hubbell, arrived, a small crowd had gathered around the bridge. One man walking through the gorges had his camera handy, and snapped four pictures of the body, which, within thirty minutes or so, was removed by emergency workers. Soon the crowd cleared, and an hour later, the bridge reopened for traffic. "Life went on," remembered Hubbell. "It's amazing how quickly." As for the two witnesses on the bridge, they didn't even wait around to see what happened. "As soon as we heard someone calling 911," said one, "my friend and I continued to campus."

If people in Ithaca seem inured to suicide, that's because they are. For as long as anyone can remember, Cornell's gorges have furnished a wide open casket for those so inclined, and Ithaca, in turn, earned the unwanted distinction of "suicide capital of the combined Ivy League, Big Ten, Little Three, and Seven Sisters," as one local writer put it. Although commensurate with national averages, suicide at Cornell — or to borrow the local vernacular, "gorging out" — has become the stuff of myth. And sometimes reality, as this month, when the university lost three students — in February, Bradley Ginsburg, 18; three weeks later, William Sinclair, 19; and the very next day, Matthew Zika, 21 — in as many weeks to its precipitous gorges. The recent spate of suicides has cast a pall over the campus. "The cumulative effect of this loss of life is palpable in our community," said Susan H. Murphy, the university's vice president for student and academic affairs, in a video address. University staff, Murphy said, were knocking on student doors, and even stationed on the campus bridges.

But if suicide, as the adage goes, is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, then confronting suicide is just the opposite. While the problem abides, the solutions — and the attention these tragedies occasion — inevitably wear thin. Thus, in the fall of 2008, the suicide of Jakub J. Janecka. That day, when police asked the university if Janecka, 33, was an enrolled student, they were told no, but that he was an alumnus, now ten years past his date of graduation. From the small town of Honesdale, Pa., Janecka had recently completed graduate studies in Washington D.C. But what brought him to Ithaca, if not the end he found, no one was quite sure. And why Janecka — or, for that matter, any of the young men — came to the gorges to meet that end is a question best answered from the beginning.

Read More on the Huffington Post

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