What makes a Commonwealth student tick? From the classes that capture their attention to their favorite books, foods, and even paradoxes, their interests are hampered only by their imaginations—and, perhaps, the hours in a day. Below, you'll meet Ranjan '26 of Somerville, Massachusetts, and learn more about his foray into computer science, his many hobbies, and his advice for any student hoping to join the Commonwealth community...
Getting to Know You
What is bringing you joy right now?
Playing guitar at home; I’ll look up songs that I like and see if I can play them—usually rock songs. I've been playing guitar since third grade. It's not my first instrument [piano], but it's something I want to get better at, and I play in Jazz Band. I also go rock climbing with friends sometimes, which is a lot of fun.
What are your favorite comfort foods?
Ever since I was a little kid, my family’s gone to this community farm, and whenever we get squash, we just cook it and eat it with brown sugar. It’s really simple, but it tastes really good.
What is your favorite book (or a book you’ve re-read)?
I read The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid [by Colin Meloy] in fifth grade, and I really enjoyed it. It’s about this kid who's a well-off ambassador’s son, but he just wants to escape.
What do you think is the most intriguing paradox?
How about, “The more you fail, the more likely you are to succeed.”
What was/is your favorite class (at Commonwealth or elsewhere)?
I'm in computer science, and I've had zero computer science experience before. When I was applying to Commonwealth, I talked to some of the people already here, like Douglas (’24); he said, “Oh, you have to do computer science. It is the best class here.” So I ended up doing it. It's really challenging, but it's also really fun, even if some of the assignments take more time than I would like. So I'm glad I did it.
I also love math. It's really fun and challenging, and Anna Moss makes the class great.
What never fails to make you laugh?
My younger brother's pretty funny.
What are people most surprised to learn about you?
Probably how far away my family lives: my mom's side is from all over the West Coast, and my dad's side is from Hyderabad, India. We see them as much as we can, but it is hard to be so far away.
Pen or pencil?
Coffee or tea?
Tea, for sure.
Fall, winter, spring, or summer?
Winter. I love snow, and my birthday is in December.
Life as a Commonwealth Student (and Beyond)
What was your first impression of Commonwealth and how has it mapped to your experience?
Well, the thing that stuck out straightaway was just how small it was—the ups and downs of that and just how close the community was. And I definitely noticed how friendly everyone was. I really like the people here; that's one of the biggest positives for me.
Using metrics besides grades, how do you define “success” in your classes?
Probably just how accomplished I feel—and how well I can explain a topic to someone else.
How do you spend your time outside of class?
I play a lot of soccer, with my brother or friends. I try to see my friends on the weekends and keep in touch with the ones who don’t go to Commonwealth.
When do you feel most connected to other students (or teachers/staff members) in our community?
Either at lunch—when, like, ten of us are huddled at one table—or at sports, which is a good opportunity to get to know people and see them outside of classes.
How has your Commonwealth experience colored the way you look at the world and how you plan for your future?
Definitely how many more opportunities are possible. I'm still figuring out what I want to do when I'm older, but doing all the research for Project Week showed me what some of the possibilities are. This year I worked with Appalachian Mountain Club, which was fun. I also sometimes talk to the seniors here about what they are planning to do. The speakers at assembly are also a great chance to hear about different career paths. I’m not thinking about it too hard yet, though.
Related: Experimenting Everywhere During Project Week 2023
What’s your advice for prospective students considering Commonwealth?
Don't be stressed, because everyone here wants you to succeed. They're all supporting you and have your back.