Last Year’s Grads Talk About College
“Swickard!” yelled Maria Cumbe from the auditorium stage, prior to taking part in an alumni panel, which was held on Thursday, January 3, 2013.
“Welcome back!” Dr. David Swickard shouted back to the Clarkson University undergraduate as he arranged his students to listen to what Maria, and 18 other 2012 East Hampton High School graduates, had to say about their first year of college.
The discussions were broken down into three groups – 9th and 10th graders for the first 40 minutes, then juniors, and finally seniors.
Ryan Joudeh is a bio/neuroscience student at Brown University, and said that the guidance office suggested to the panel that they touch on different points “since we are speaking in front of different grades. A freshman will have different questions than a senior,” he said.
Guidance counselor Lynne Brown introduced the “excellent panel,” which included students at both public and private universities, two-year colleges, and military institutions.
“College is awesome,” said Andrew Bennett, who attends American University in Washington, D.C. Estefany Cabrera, a music major at SUNY Purchase, described her choice as “an artsy school – hippies running around all over the place,” which earned an appreciative chuckle from the audience.
Jennifer De Groof, who is double majoring in psychology and pre-law at Flagler College in St. Augustine, offered props to the instructors at EHHS.
“You may think your English teachers are mean, giving you lots of papers to write,” she said. “But I have about three papers a week now, so thank them for the preparation.”
Brittany Schmitt emphasized the need to ascertain if your interests are aligned with the school you have chosen. Her first choice college, it turned out, did not offer the majors she wanted. Now, at Suffolk Community College, she is able to take classes in American Sign Language and interpreting, two of her passions.
“It’s also a lot cheaper,” she said of the two-year program. “A lot.”
“Me and my roommates have become best friends,” said Alex Hannah, who is studying bio/med at Dowling College. “It’s a small school, which is great, because I felt I needed the extra attention from my professors.”
In the advice department, Jennifer cautioned the audience to “sleep when you can” when getting to college. “I have five roommates, and I never sleep.”
Jade Maria Carroll, who majors in creative writing at Susquehanna University, had a laundry list of “don’ts” for high school students. “Don’t wait until September of your senior year, like I did,” she said. “The sooner you get started, the easier it will be. Don’t be me,” she said.
James Talmage wanted to go “somewhere with no snow,” and ended up at Cornell University in Ithaca, where the average snowfall is measured in feet, not inches. But, he said, “it was the right place for my personality. I really felt like I fit in there.”
Kathryn Ryan, who will be majoring in communications at New York University, said for her it was “location, location, location.” She warned students about too much debt. “Be careful about loans,” she said. “They’re tricky.”
Mariah Dempsey, who is attending University of Texas at Austin, said she bought many of her college textbooks on Amazon, “saving a ton of money,” and then sold them on Amazon when she was done.
Cheyenne Mata said leaving East Hampton was a “nerve-wracking” experience, especially since she attends Norwich University, which is a military school. She is in the Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and is “in a platoon with 30 kids. They’re my family now, so it’s not that bad,” she said.
Sarah Talmage, who is a student at Dickinson College, reiterated Jennifer’s earlier comment. “Don’t forget to thank your teachers,” she said. “They’re helping to prepare you for what’s out there.”