Small Town but Big College Bound: Truckee, North Tahoe students accepted to prestigious colleges |

Small Town but Big College Bound: Truckee, North Tahoe students accepted to prestigious colleges

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunSophomore Mikiah Raffaeli, senior Kimia Habibi and senior Terra Maher do a chemistry experiment during an AP chemistry class at Truckee High School Tuesday. Habibi will be attending Stanford next year and Maher will be attending University of Colorado at Boulder.

When Truckee High School senior Kimia Habibi, 17, was accepted to Stanford University it was a dream come true.

The class valedictorian said her affection for the campus started in seventh grade when she went to camp at the school. Since then she has visited often to get “face time” with the professors.

Habibi is not alone among seniors from the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District who have been admitted to prestigious institutions. Her peers from Truckee and North Tahoe are being accepted to universities like Brown, UC Berkeley and Cornell.

Yet the college admissions process is becoming more competitive every year, as evidenced by Stanford’s admissions this year.

“We admitted 9.5 percent [of applicants], which is the lowest admission rate in Stanford’s 117-year history,” said Stanford University spokesman Jonathan Rabinovitz.

Several factors play into the difficulty of admissions these days. Perhaps the most significant is a swelling population of college-aged Americans while the number of spaces open at many colleges and universities has remained static, according to the Web site.

Also, students are sending out more applications. Out of the 84 North Tahoe High School seniors, 149 acceptance letters were received, according to counselor Penny Burney.

While competition remains high, many Truckee and North Tahoe students are being accepted to four-year universities, according to local statistics. Last year 52 percent of Truckee’s graduating class went on to four-year universities, said the school’s Career Technician Kathleen Johnson. Habibi joins approximately 185 graduating Truckee High School students this year. Statistics for this year’s class were not available at press time.

Across the district at North Tahoe High, 37 percent of the Laker’s graduating will go on to four-year colleges with almost the same amount going to community college, Burney said.

While students like Habibi have realized their dreams by being accepted to schools with more name recognition, others like 18-year-old senior Andrew Pado were looking for a good fit rather than prestige, he said.

Pado was accepted to schools like Carnegie Mellon and Cornell University but decided to attend UC Santa Barbara because that is where he felt more comfortable, he said.

Like Habibi, he visited the campus at an early age, and ever since then envisioned it as the archetype for higher learning.

“Ever since then that was my picture of what a college should look like,” he said.

Pado’s father, Marc, said he has heard of the perception of the small town not producing students that go on to prestigious universities, he said all of the opportunities exist for students but motivation must be a factor.

Habibi admitted that she was motivated throughout her school career.

“My mom says I came out this way,” she said.

Habibi took AP classes and even attended the University of Nevada Reno to brush up on her composition skills.

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