On January 6th a new tradition began at The Gregory School!
At the invitation of Mr. David Schindel, College Counselor and Ms. Mary Babbitt, Director of Upper School Student Services, graduates of the class of 2016 returned for lunch with our current senior class. Members of the faculty and administration eagerly joined in. The intent: to share their immediate reactions, experiences and advice about college life with students waiting for decisions from their schools of choice.
The outcome? It was wonderful!
Mr. Schindel had a list of prepared questions designed to create spontaneous, yet involved, responses. The first one was great, “Think of your experiences so far and give your best advice in one word. Go!” In rapid fire around the room:
Asha Ramakumar: Balance
Karam Katariya: Sleep
Carly Caylor: Organization
When asked to dive more deeply into their reactions, the discussions were thoughtful and helpful.
Balance is important because it’s easy to sign up for too much when you’re new and excited. Asha immediately found many scheduling conflicts followed by choices to pare down her involvement. There was no way to join too many clubs while working hard on her coursework. Her advice: Be selective. Find your passion. Create a schedule that allows you to do both. You can do it.
Karam rather implied he learned about sleep the hard way. He told students it’s easy to avoid sleeping until you get overwhelmed. Be sure to schedule it in because it really is an important part of your success. All-nighters are overrated. Rest was where it’s at.
Carly said she was able to take the organizational skills she developed at TGS and transfer them to meet the expectations of her professors. Being in the right place at the right time offered her an opportunity to travel to San Diego and take part in the development of a new major at the University. She was clearly excited when sharing this story of luck: when preparedness and opportunity met.
Bridget’s mention of “socialization” got a chuckle from the crowd but as she went on to explain; she was referring to her ability to speak confidently with her instructors and make friends easily. She felt the open and welcoming environment at The Gregory School provided her with a lot of opportunity to practice approaching her teachers and becoming involved with peers without fear or intimidation. This removed a lot of the stress associated with beginning college.
All four alumni agreed that the best way to keep your education “personalized” on a large campus was to create relationships with your professors. Go to office hours. Ask questions. Get involved in your projects. Do good work. Instructors really are interested in helping you get the most from your college experience. However, they quickly reinforced that no one was going to do this for them! The biggest realization was learning to be on their own and to be their own advocate.
When asked if they felt academically prepared for college, they all answered “yes.” An ability to write well was cited as the skill that provided them with a definite advantage over students struggling to adjust.
Carly closed out the session by stating that the size and scope of college “really doesn’t hit you until you get there.” The group quickly added to this sentiment by saying their best survival tactic was to join clubs in line with their majors, within their dorms, and with friends that had the same interests.
If the event’s success was measured by the number of joyful reunions and hugs, we’d call it triumphant! Wed look forward to next year and a second generation of college freshman alumni returning to our campus.
Major: Public Policy, adding a second in Women and Gender Studies
Minor: Computer Science with a Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurism
Double Major: Personal Finance and Spanish
Major: Systems Engineering
Minor: Electrical and Computer Engineering