Getting a perfect 36 score on your ACT exam is really, really hard. Illinois State University incoming freshman Griffin Megeff did it twice.

Out of 1.9 million students who took the ACT in 2015, Megeff was one of only 1,598 who earned the coveted 36 out of 36. That composite score puts just about any college within arm’s reach—even the Ivy Leagues—but Megeff wanted something specific: a school that let him try just about anything.

“For my undergraduate education, I wanted a school that catered to my needs. I knew all along that was going to be Illinois State,” said Megeff, who started his freshman year this month at Illinois State.

For Megeff, that means he’ll major in computer science but gets to perform with the ISU Men’s Glee Club and try out for other musical groups. It means moving into the Honors Themed Living-Learning Community to enhance personal and academic development. He may even join the Big Red Marching Machine.

Megeff graduated from Mahomet-Seymour High School in central Illinois, where he was heavily involved with musical theatre, drum line, and the local madrigal singers. He heard great things about all the opportunities at Illinois State from his sisters, Sidney and Braidy, who are both students here.

Individualized attention is a core value at Illinois State—just ask the student who created his own circus studies major.

“Illinois State will work with you so you can do all the things you want to do—or even just try,” Megeff said.

ACT whiz

Megeff’s options certainly grew after he aced the ACT during his junior year of high school. The new Redbird humbly credited his high school’s ACT prep program for helping him. (That perfect composite score doesn’t mean he got every single question right—but probably pretty close.)

So after his first 36, why did he take it again? Well, he’d already signed up and paid for the second test.

“But partially, it was to see, wait, did this really happen? Was that for real?” he said.

Like any high-achieving applicant, Megeff qualified for merit-based scholarships at Illinois State. In fact, all freshmen with a 25 ACT (1150 SAT) and a 3.4 GPA received merit-based scholarships in 2016.

“Illinois State will work with you so you can do all the things you want to do—or even just try.”

Megeff received the Presidential Scholarship, Illinois State’s most prestigious scholarship available to new freshmen. Both of his Redbird sisters also are Presidential Scholars.

Megeff says he already wanted to attend college in Illinois so he’d qualify for the lower in-state tuition. Earning the Presidential Scholarship—and entry into the Honors Program—was just the clincher.

“That’s the dream, right? To get a good, balanced education and tuition that’s affordable,” he said.

Though he’ll stay involved in music at Illinois State, Megeff will major in computer science in the School of Information Technology. He’s always been interested in mathematics and technology, and he grew up playing video games. Computer science is a growing field with lots of career paths, he said.

“I’m thrilled to be here, to be starting my next chapter at Illinois State,” he said.

Megeff is one of five new Redbirds featured this week on Meet our other freshmen:

Apply now for fall or spring 2017, or set up a visit to our campus.

Ryan Denham can be reached at