August 01, 2013Eleni Pitses is convinced MIT is the right place for her, the University Liggett School Class of 2013 graduate saying she felt an immediate connection with the students and culture following an April visit to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"There were a lot of schools that I liked, too, so I did weigh out my options after I was accepted," Pitses said of the other colleges she received acceptances from, such as Carnegie Mellon University, Cornell University, University of Michigan, University of Rochester in New York and University of Pittsburgh. "After my visit in April, I was convinced MIT was the place for me."
During that April visit, Pitses partook in a series of activities unlike any other she had experienced during college visits prior or thereafter, activities hinting at the culture that attracted her most. The culture, she said, is an interesting mix of studiousness, fun and nerdiness.
While there, she participated in video game-type events, like dropping bouncy balls off a building and playing Tetris on the side of a building.
An avid soccer player, playing varsity all four years at Liggett as well as travel soccer year round, she also practiced with the women's soccer team and hopes to try out in the fall.
"It was a really good place for me," said Pitses, who at Liggett earned team MVP this past season, first team all-conference her junior year and second team all-conference freshmen year. She also ran track.
Academically at Liggett, her list of accomplishments is even greater. The Liggett Scholar regularly participated in the Michigan Mathematics League competitions at Liggett, led the school's peer tutoring club her senior year, made the Cum Laude Society her junior year and was honored at the mayor's prayer breakfast May 2, for being Liggett's top senior academically.
Last summer, she was one of 12 students to receive a stipend to participate in QuarkNet, a two-week program at Wayne State University during which she researched cosmic rays, heard private physics lectures and analyzed data from the CERN Laboratory in Switzerland.
"Through this program, I attained an improved understanding of particle physics and became acquainted with the frustrations and excitement of scientific research," Pitses said.
A scientist at heart, she exhausted all of Liggett's chemistry classes by junior year, opening an opportunity for her to take part in an independent study of chemistry this past year at organic synthesis labs. In her time at the labs, she made aspirin, acetaminophen and biodiesel and tested her samples at Wayne State.
"My independent study exposed me to having my own lab space and how that works, and also research in some ways because I had to manipulate the conditions of some reactions in order to have success after initial failure," said Pitses, currently undecided, but who will likely major in either chemical engineering or chemistry.
Both programs at MIT rate tops in the world, according to U.S. News and World Report. The chemical engineering program has held the distinction for 24 consecutive years.
Though nice, such recognitions and prestige factored little in Pitses's decision to attend MIT, at least, not as much as how she felt during that campus visit in April.
"While I was excited to be admitted to MIT, its prestige was not a factor in my decision," she said. "I gave each of my schools a fair consideration and narrowed down my list to MIT and the University of Pittsburgh, from which I received a full scholarship. After visiting each campus, I was convinced that I would feel most comfortable at MIT."
Pitses is part of the 8.2 percent of students admitted to the university this fall, the lowest ever acceptance rate in the school's history. MIT received 18,989 applicants and accepted only 1,548.