The alums who spoke to juniors in the Sharp Academic Commons were: Tiffany Crawford ‘16 - University of Miami; Alex Parham ‘16 - Hampden-Sydney College; Ellie Fleming ‘16 - University of Delaware; Ashley Eastep ‘18 - College of William & Mary; Hart Johnson ‘15 - University of South Carolina, and Mohamed Karabatek ‘15 - Yale University.
In Oates Theater with the seniors were: Meriwether Roberts ‘15 - University of South Carolina; Parker Conquest ‘17 - Davidson College; Amy Kaplan ‘18 - University of Pennsylvania; Sydney Adams ‘16 - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Emily Gerber ‘15 - Virginia Commonwealth University.
Collegiate’s Director of College Counseling Brian Leipheimer and Associate Director of College Counseling Kim Ball facilitated the separate sessions, guiding the alums through questions that led to transparent revelations and heartfelt advice.
“Enjoy this last bit of high school,” Meriwether told seniors.
She and Emily also encouraged them to prepare for the transition to college by attending their university's freshmen orientation programs to meet new students and to keep themselves on track with their studies and academic deadlines.
“Your teacher is not going to know who you are unless you...take the extra step to go and look for help,” Meriwether said.
“Get you a nice planner and plan day by day what you’re going to do,” Emily advised, adding that students also should be prepared to embrace the amount of time they may spend alone and use it to understand themselves better.
Both groups of alums urged juniors and seniors to visit the colleges on their short list if at all possible, because experiencing a campus firsthand can reveal whether it’s their best fit.
“Even visit your ‘safety schools’ – they might surprise you,” Sydney said.
Alex advised juniors to avoid overthinking their college essays when it comes time to write them, and instead to focus on producing pieces that are authentic and unique.
Mohamed and several others sang the praises of the early action process, whereby they submitted their non-binding college applications at the first available opportunity. This gave them time to do more research about the universities to which they had applied.
Once enrolled in college, the process of building a successful independent life as a student might come with fits and starts, several of the panelists in the junior session said.
“That first year is perfect for mistakes and learning more about yourself,” Mohamed said.
“You learn how to fail and how to pick yourself up,” Hart said.
“Collegiate has prepared you well,” Alex said. “Be open to everything – making new friends (and) trying new things.”