Viera student discusses process that led him to choose Notre Dame


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One of the things that sold John Sayut on Notre Dame was a trip he made there before his junior year. “There was a grotto, a place where you go to pray. It felt very special, very homey," Sayut said.

Carl Kotala

John Sayut will be heading to Notre Dame this month to begin the next chapter in his education.

How the Viera High School graduate got there is a tale that began before his freshman year, when he took his first college tour, and included a poster board of pros and cons between his final two choices.

But ultimately, it came down to where John Sayut felt most at home.

And when you’re a high school student thinking about what colleges you want to go to, figuring out where you will be most comfortable should clearly be among the deciding factors.

Sayut did his research. He went on the College Board and U.S. News & World Report websites, along with Niche.com, to not only get a feel for where the schools ranked, but also what the surrounding neighborhoods were like and the different kinds of reviews each institution received.

“I ended up applying to about a dozen schools or so,” Sayut said. “A lot of them I really liked. I probably went on 10, 15 college tours.”

In addition to Carnegie Mellon University — his first college tour going into his freshman year — Sayut visited schools such as Penn, Columbia, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, Florida, UCF, Case-Western Reserve and the University of Chicago.

Sayut, who plans to major in mechanical engineering with an eye on eventually becoming a designer of prosthetics, not only applied to schools he thought he could get into, but also those he figured might be tough to get accepted into — an idea he would recommend to others in similar circumstances.

In doing so, he wanted to give himself some different options.

As part of the application process, Sayut used the website commonapp.org.

“The Common App makes it very easy to apply to a lot of different schools,” he said. “It’s a website you can go on, create your own username, and you can fill out essentially all of your demographic information, all of your extra-curricular activities and there’s a generic essay (you write) that goes to every school.

“The more selective schools are going to have you submit some shorter essays, too, that are more specific to that university.”

In his application to Notre Dame, for instance, Sayut had to choose from a list of four topics to write a pair of 200-word essays that were more centered around why he thought the school was the place for him.

After receiving acceptance letters from schools like Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Case-Western and Florida, Sayut and his family began to focus in on the two former schools as the places that might fit him best.

He put together a list of pros and cons, and even visited both schools again to take a closer look. In the end, it came down to a number of things — affordability, available resources and a feeling of community.

“What I’ve found in theater at school, and my extra curriculars at school is that I really appreciate being part of a community, being a part of people that want to help people,” Sayut said.

“Every school I visited said something about service — ‘We’re into service’ — but I never believed it like I believed it at Notre Dame. … I think Notre Dame is a really great choice.

“It fits who I am as a person.”

A portion of Sayut’s scholarship to Notre Dame will be funded by the Notre Dame Club of Melbourne, a local alumni association.