Nick Charchut was an outstanding student at Santa Monica High School, a description to which his co-valedictorian honor attests.
But it’s not a status he’s necessarily expecting to keep.
The recent graduate will soon be heading to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he knows he’ll be surrounded by some of the country’s brightest students.
Just 1,447 (7.9 percent) of 18,356 freshman applicants were admitted last year at MIT, which has produced 80 Nobel Laureates, 56 National Medal of Science winners and 43 MacArthur Fellows.
“It feels amazing because of its reputation in both education and real-world opportunities available as a result of said education,” he said of being offered a spot at the prestigious Cambridge campus. “On the other hand, I am sometimes overwhelmed because I realize that even at my best, I will be just an average student at the Institute.”
Charchut was also accepted at UCLA, UC Berkeley and California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, but he held off on applying to other schools such as Stanford and Vanderbilt because he wanted to hear from MIT first.
With a strong interest in robotics, Charchut plans to study electrical engineering and computer science in college and hopes to work as an engineer at Tesla after graduating.
This summer he spent time at Legacy Effects in San Fernando, where his mother works, and he had the opportunity to use a special handheld tool to scan objects and create 3-D files for digital artists to manipulate. He also took part in a service trip to Louisiana.
Reflecting on his four years at Samohi, Charchut said he feels prepared for the demands of college.
In addition to taking rigorous courses, he served as an officer in Delians, a Samohi honor society, and was a member of the Academic Decathlon team that took third place at the National Science Bowl regional competition earlier this year.
“With all of the advanced classes available, the academics were certainly challenging, and with all the elective choices, I was able to better round myself out as both a student as a person,” he said.
Charchut said most of the highlights from his high school experience revolved around the camaraderie of sporting events. He was a pitcher on the Samohi baseball team and earned second-team all-league honors this past season, when the Vikings reached the section quarterfinals.
“While the cheers of Samohi students sometimes turned negative with trash talk and violence, sporting events definitely solidified the notion of what it means to be a Samohi Viking,” he said. “It’s a good feeling.”
Charchut has another month to reflect on his time at Samohi. Classes at MIT are scheduled to start Sept. 9.
“I am really excited to meet new people and develop new relationships with some of the most interesting people in the world,” he said. “I am also really looking forward to having freedom, whether with class choice, free time, or bedtime.”
Contact Jeff Goodman at 310-573-8351, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter.