What VHS 2011 Is Doing: Ivy League

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Jody Freinkel

In this battered economy, even a valedictorian needs to be cautious.

Jody Freinkel, the top student in the Verona High School Class of 2011, is headed to Philadelphia later this summer to attend the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.  If you’ve only ever thought of Wharton for its MBA program, you might be surprised to learn that Wharton has an undergraduate side. Not only that, but students in the undergraduate program take about half their classes in subjects other than business on many of the other Penn campuses. To Freinkel, that signifies an education that could some day create many opportunities, from Wall Street to law or medical school.

“I wanted to have all the doors open,” she says. “Eighteen is really young. What have I done? I want to get out there and see life.”

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Freinkel’s life so far includes elementary school at Laning, tennis team all through VHS and a lot of community service. She has been a very active volunteer in The First Presbyterian Church’s grief counseling program, Rainbows. It offers services to families affected by divorce, as her family had been.

Last summer, after the Class of 2010 graduated, MyVeronaNJ.com wrote about what was ahead for several members of that class. We profiled a student headed to nursing school, a group going to hospitality school, and two young women who wanted international educations, one in the U.S. and one abroad. This year, we’ll be looking at students on career tracks and college plans that involve art, music and more. Bookmark the tag “Class of 2011” to read them all.

Philadelphia's Independence Hall is walking distance from Wharton

Wharton wasn’t initially on Freinkel’s must-see list, let alone her must-apply list. She had focused on Georgetown University, the University of Chicago, Villanova and the University of Vermont–all of which accepted her. But on a trip back north from a visit to Johns Hopkins University (where fellow VHS classmate Logan Bronson will be enrolled in the fall), a friend from VHS, Bina Nayee, Class of 2010, implored her to take a look at the school she was attending, Penn.  It proved fortuitous. “When I got to Penn,” says Freinkel, “it felt like people like me.”

That might seem like an odd comment about Penn, given its size–at 9,000 undergrads, it’s several times the size of Verona High School. It’s located in Philadelphia, where one neighborhood probably has more inhabitants than Verona. But Wharton takes care to separate newbies into small groups of 60 students called cohorts that take their classes together.

If you are a junior or sophomore considering an Ivy League school, Freinkel has some advice. “Don’t stress over the SATs,” she says. “I thought they would make or break me, but they didn’t. Be yourself on the application, and if you think you have even a mild shot at an Ivy, apply. Big schools have big endowments and you can graduate with less debt.”

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected]

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