Stories and insights on excellent education.
What They Learned in (Three Months of) College: SA’s First Alums Advise Seniors!
Success Academy – January 25, 2019
It seems like just yesterday that we waved the founding class of SA graduates off to college, but they’ve already completed their first semester of freshman year! Recently, several of our graduates returned to SA High School of the Liberal Arts for an inaugural reunion. Members of the Class of 2022 shared pizza, cookies, and hugs with current seniors and former teachers — as well as advice learned from the three months they’ve spent as college students.
It seems like just yesterday that we waved the founding class of SA graduates off to college
As the Class of 2023 continues to celebrate acceptances to top institutions — including offers from Tufts University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Tulane University — they’re eager to catch a glimpse of what life on campus is really like. Our alums had plenty to say on that topic!
Know yourself: Several graduates pointed to the importance of realizing — and embracing — who you are and what you need. If you like to get things done and out of the way early, opt for morning classes, but if you struggle to get out of bed, find classes with later start times whenever possible. If you know that you won’t be able to focus on your essay after going to that party, skip the party — there will always be others! If you’re shy and uncomfortable speaking in large groups, look for small class sizes so that you can enjoy participating.
Office hours are key: Regardless of where they go to college, all graduates agreed that taking advantage of professors’ office hours is essential for success. They spoke about using office hours to discuss papers or clear up confusion about what was talked about in class. Grads were surprised at how helpful professors could be, but stressed to seniors that it’s their responsibility to reach out.
Take control of your experience: Our graduates pointed out that most attend predominantly white institutions (PWIs); they found it necessary to advocate for inclusivity and diversity. They urged seniors to have the confidence to raise their voices, emphasizing that college is a place for questioning — even if it means asking a professor to think more carefully about the curriculum! In addition, graduates talked about the importance of finding and forging connections on campus, whether through clubs, meeting new people, or simply trying new experiences. All agreed that attending free events and giveaways are a great way to make campus feel more like your own.
Don’t pressure yourself too much: When asked if it’s difficult to find friends in the first few months of college, our grads were insistent: it’s not likely that you will make your greatest friendships right from the beginning — and that’s fine! Having different friend groups for different occasions actually proved useful for several of our graduates, who have people they turn to for fun, for study sessions, or even for carpooling back home. They noted that it’s not essential to be besties with your roommate, either; the important thing is to keep open lines of communication so that you can both come to agreements without the drama.
College parties are fun, but procrastination is not your friend: Of course, seniors were interested in hearing about college parties — are they like what you see in the movies? Alums noted that they have certainly enjoyed the social scene at their respective colleges. But they went on to remind seniors that strong time management — a work hard, play hard approach — is helpful to avoid feeling overwhelmed. From apps to manage homework and sleep schedules, to avoiding too many late-night library sessions, taking charge of your schedule right from the beginning helps prevent a time-crunch come finals time.