Courtesy of Rachel Kulchar
By this month, seniors have decided what they want to do with the next chapter of their lives. Some options include a gap year, study abroad, 4-year university, community college, trade school, work, etc. This year, a CHS senior was accepted to, and is attending, Princeton University this fall.
Though senior Rachel Kulchar has only been a student at CHS for the past two years, she is a part of the speech and debate program and the rowing team. To put her academics to the test, Kulchar also spends her time tutoring students at Mathnasium. In addition to these activities, she involves herself in her community, and greatly enjoys helping others.
“I think it’s a luck thing,” Kulchar said. “And intellectual vitality. I took so many classes that I didn’t need to, which I think helped my acceptance. I took probably seven Mira Costa and Cal State classes that I didn’t even put on my transcript, I think that was the main reason I got in.”
Kulchar applied to Princeton under restrictive early action, meaning it was the only school she applied to early action. This is not a binding agreement where she will be forced to attend if accepted (early decision), but it simply showed her special interest in the university.
“I didn’t think I was going to get in,” Kulchar said. “Not at all. Deferral is like a soft rejection. I wasn’t super upset when I got deferred, but I was like, ‘yeah, I got rejected, I didn’t get in.’ My parents didn’t think I was going to get in either. They told me, ‘you still have a chance,’ but after I got in I asked them, ‘did you think I was going to get in?’ and they said no. Only two percent of people who get deferred get in.”
Despite going to Cathedral Catholic High School her freshman and sophomore year, Kulchar has made some lifelong friends here at CHS. Senior Adri Katzin was with Kulchar when she received her acceptance letter. Though Kulchar’s hopes were not high after her waitlist at UC Berkeley, Katzin still believed her close friend would get in to Princeton.
“There was no surprise, no,” Katzin said. “I was surprised when she got deferred. I think I always kind of knew that she was capable of getting in because she’s the kind of person that colleges look at. She’s got depth, actual morals and values. I think she completely deserves it, I’m not surprised at all, and super proud of her.”
Kulchar was accepted to many other prestigious universities, including Duke, Brown, USC, UCLA and the Air Force Academy, but her top two choices ended up being Princeton and Air Force. She visited both schools, and ultimately realized that Princeton gave her something that Air Force could not.
“At Princeton, I can experience regular, civilian life, and a regular college experience,” Kulchar said. “I would also get the military aspect after I graduate, and with my possible profession, but if I went straight to Air force I wouldn’t get to experience that. Princeton had both aspects and it seemed like the best of both worlds.”
Though she is not sure what she will major in, Kulchar presumes it will be dentistry or medicine for the military. Another appealing aspect of Princeton was its Bridge Year program. This would take Kulchar’s passion for helping others to the next level. Forty Princeton students have the opportunity to do a community service project for nine months, fully paid for, in either Bolivia, India, Indonesia, Senegal or China (eight students per country).
“I really, really want to do the Bridge Year program because it will help me mature and open up more pathways for a profession that I might like,” Kulchar said. “It’s awesome to go to another country fully paid for for nine months and do community service.”
Though moving so far from home will be new for Kulchar, she is excited nonetheless excited for the change of scenery. She can experience independence while also getting a taste of both city life and small town life on the East Coast.
“What I really like about Princeton is it’s in the city of Princeton New Jersey, which is like 40 minutes away from New York City by train, so I get to experience New York and the quiet life of Princeton,” Kulchar said. “They also invest so much in their students which is awesome because it’s undergrad heavy, and it’s one of the only Ivy’s that’s like that. All of the professors teach undergraduate students, so they give all their best people to the freshmen coming in. They have a huge emphasis on teaching, so every person that does research on campus has to teach a class. You can’t come just for you, you have to give back to the kids.”