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High school student goes 8 for 8 in Ivy League college admissions

By Lauren Morton and Lorenzo Ferrigno, CNN
updated 1:35 PM EDT, Wed April 2, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Kwasi Enin, 17, has been accepted to all eight Ivy League schools and then some
  • "He is incredibly dedicated and he has his priorities straight," his principal says
  • Enin plays three instruments, is on the track and field team and acts in plays

New York (CNN) -- A New York high school student has made it to the Elite Eight in a different sort of March Madness.

Kwasi Enin of Shirley has been accepted by the eight Ivy League schools -- Harvard, Yale, Brown, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Princeton and Cornell -- and then some. He will have his choice as the decision deadline of May 1 approaches.

"I applied knowing that going to any of the Ivy League schools would be wonderful," Enin told CNN. "I thought if I applied to all eight, I figured I'd get into one ... but from the first one onwards I said, 'This can't be happening!' I was shocked seeing all these acceptances under my name."

Enin scored 2250 out of a possible 2400 on his SAT, placing him in the 98th percentile across the country, according to The College Board. He's also ranked 11th in his class at William Floyd High School, a public school on Long Island, according to his principal, Barbara Butler.

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Butler said Enin is not only a model academic student but also plays three instruments for the chamber orchestra, sings in an a cappella group, throws shot put and discus for the high school's track and field team, participates in student government and has had a lead role in school plays since the ninth grade.

"Usually kids are good athletes or good musicians or good actors, but they don't have all three and then on top add student government. It's a balancing act. He somehow finds time to do it all and then volunteer at a local hospital," Butler said.

Butler has been Enin's principal for six years in both middle and high school.

"He is an incredibly modest, humble and respectable person," Butler said. "He is incredibly dedicated and he has his priorities straight. He takes advantage of whatever opportunity he is afforded."

Rachel Rubin, the founder of Spark Admissions in Massachusetts, who also previously served on admissions committees at selective universities, said the feat is extremely rare.

"It's quite atypical," Rubin said, adding that most students do not apply to all the Ivy League schools.

"Standardized test scores and good grades will get a student in the door to have their application read," Rubin said. "But it's their extracurricular activities, leadership experience, exceptional talents, recommendation letters and personal essays that will move a student from a pile of 'maybes' to a pile of 'accepted.'"

Harvard's acceptance rate, among the most selective in the country, was just 5.9% for the applicants for the class of 2017, according to its admissions site.

Enin was also accepted to Duke University and three State University of New York campuses.

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Although Enin has yet to make a decision, there seems to be a front-runner.

"I'm thinking about Yale. I really liked their sense of family, relationships between undergraduates and professors, and the residential college. They also have a strong biomedical engineering program, which is a wonderful combination of biology and creative tools that doctors and health care professionals can use."

Enin added that Yale also has a strong music program, one of his beloved hobbies that he hopes to continue when he isn't hitting the books in college.

He hopes to one day pursue medicine, a dream of his that just so happens to align with his parents' careers.

His parents, who immigrated from Ghana in the late 1980s, are both nurses and pushed Enin to receive the highest grades possible and follow his dreams.

"Health care is a prominent field that satisfies people beyond finances and edifies people and is about moral development," he said.

His advice for future applicants?

"Follow your passions in high school and not just follow suit for what you think can get you into these schools," he said. "Develop your outside interests -- not just academics."

CNN's Laura Ly contributed to this report.

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