My Transition from RHS to the Ivy League: Choose and Follow Your Passion


Since graduating from Revere High School in 2015, David Landeta’s world has changed dramatically. Midway through his freshman year at Princeton, Landeta fields a series of questions about the transition to an Ivy League college and the ways in which RHS prepared him for the journey.

In general, what do you think about Princeton?
Princeton is certainly a challenging place, but it is also a rewarding and fulfilling environment. I am having a great time here. It is a drastic change, one that I definitely underestimated. Its undergraduate focus contains a vast amount of enrichment opportunities that is clearly evident at all academic aspects, despite its suburban setting.


How is your dorm and housing set up?
Every incoming freshman is randomly placed in one of six residential colleges. I currently live in Wilson College, which is at the center of the campus. More specifically, I live in an eleven-person suite, which is a certainly new environment. My roommates are brilliant and we are a diverse group from all parts of the U.S and the world.

What are you studying?
I switched majors quite a few times so far because there are so many departments that interest me. At this point, I am leaning towards molecular biology on a pre-health track.

How are the extracurricular activities?
From club baseball to the rock ensemble, there sure are a lot of groups to fulfill one’s interests. Usually there is an application and tryout process to get into clubs, which is a huge change from RHS. At college, it is essential to choose and follow your passions. Do things that you want to do, not what you have to do.

What clubs and organizations are you involved in on campus?
Most recently, I write for the Princeton Public Health Review and the Minority Association for Pre-Medical Students Newsletter. In addition, I have been working with mentoring groups. Over fall break, I participated in a weeklong trip to Brooklyn to help high school seniors apply to college. I strive to join more service trips in the spring semester.

How is the social atmosphere at a school like Princeton?
The competitive nature may seem obvious at an Ivy League school. Yet, people here are very approachable and friendly, which is definitely not the vibe you might expect at a school like Princeton. There are many talented and athletic students from all across the globe. There isn’t a time where you question why you are at this school and how you even got in. However, I have learned that we all contribute something unique to the Princeton community, which reinforces why everyone was selected and offered admission. Wherever you go, you will find people that you can relate to and form friendships. Remember that college is about decisions; decisions that will impact the rest of your life. So, my advice is to make the most out of college.

How has RHS prepared you for Princeton?
At Princeton, every freshman has to take a writing seminar class as part of the many distribution requirements.

I finished my writing seminar this fall semester and I cannot emphasize how much the RHS English department has prepared me to tackle such complex writing assignments.”

In addition, I still find it ridiculous that 20 pages of reading in one night was a lot compared to 50-60 pages per night of challenging reading I faced this semester. I recommend that everyone enhance their active reading skills prior to college because it can save you time and it can improve your comprehension of intense readings. In addition, the AP curriculum certainly prepared me for the rigor of college. Whether it was a calculus test, a chemistry lab, or a timed essay, I developed the necessary skills to apply and succeed at an academically driven place like Princeton.

What is your advice for someone looking to get into a top school?
The college admissions process is becoming more and more rigorous and overwhelming. As the amount of applicants is significantly increasing, the amount of accepted students remains constant. In order to be successful in this process it takes more than just high grades and exceptional SAT scores. It is essential to understand that your life outside of the classrooms matters just as much, and sometimes even more. When admissions officers have to review over 30,000 applications, which is common at most elite schools, extracurricular activities such as sports, internships, jobs, and hobbies can be used to your advantage. Remember that quality over quantity and quantity over quality work together. A well-rounded student can be just as qualified as a well-lopsided student. It is all about being goal-oriented and optimistic, meaning that you need to take advantage of your resources and make wise choices that will enable you to reach that goal. Be yourself and have an open mind. It will all work out. Best of luck!