We asked teachers and staff what advice they would give to graduating seniors about their next four years in college.
Latin teacher Jane Batarseh
College is, in many ways, so unlike high school that you have a chance to start again with things that you find best about yourself and to leave any stereotypes of you behind.
You become somewhat of a different person because no one knows what you were or accomplished in high school. And you (can) rely on that for self-confidence, yes, but you have to prove yourself again in college.
History teacher Sue Nellis
Take advantage of every opportunity, particularly in regards to areas that you have not studied before or in areas that you want to go into in real depth. I always told my history students to take classes that they’ve never taken before.
On the social end, seek out people that you’ve not known anything about – that you’ve not had contact with.
I grew up in an all-white school. I’d had some exposure to different cultures, but it was so wonderful to really get to know people that had totally different experiences from me. It was life-changing.
Director of college counseling Jane Bauman
As I told the juniors at the last C day meeting, the secret to success is being really engaged in the process.
And the second piece of advice would be to keep an open mind.
Valerie Velo, assistant to the head of high school
(This year’s senior class) has pretty much nailed the balance between academics and social life. But I would say when you arrange your schedule for classes, don’t cram all of your classes into one or two days. Because you’ll just be bored out of your mind the rest of the week.
That’s what I found. My first semester of college, I went to school only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I thought, “That’ll be great. I can spend the rest of the week studying.” I didn’t have a job, so as the semester went on, I decided to sleep in or go shopping or have coffee with my friends instead of doing my homework or my readings. Whereas if I was doing (work) every day, it helped me stay focused and on track.
So arrange your schedule where it’s nicely balanced: not too much free time on one day, not too many classes on one day.
Physics teacher Glenn Mangold
People will tell you that college is for new experiences, and it’s for having fun and for doing things you’ll never get the chance to do again. And my experience of that, both personally and from talking to other people, is that it’s completely false. College is the time when you’re paying lots and lots of money to learn what you need to know and assemble a transcript that will help you for the rest of your life.
Once you get out in life and you’re making your own money and paying your own way, that’s when you can do anything you want because you have complete control over your life.
So don’t let anyone talk you into temptation and neglecting your studies because they’re saying, “No, you can try this! You can do this!”
Physical education department coordinator Michelle Myers
Sleep and sunscreen – my two favorite “s” words! Sleep is when you guys recover, so it’s really important. It’s really hard to fit it in in college.
The other thing I always say is have a great time. Sometimes you have to step back and observe, and then you get a better perspective. And never be afraid to ask for help!
French teacher Richard Day
I think that first year you should be using that time to explore things more before you guys get clobbered with responsibilities and you get too entrenched in your track.
If you have an inkling to do something different or try something different, that’s the time to do it. Adopt an attitude – if you don’t already have one – of exploration and taking some risks and getting outside of your comfort zone because, afterwards, life is going to clobber you, and this is the time where you can maneuver a little bit and try different things.
And maybe you can go traveling and not wait until your junior year. A lot of people wait.
Biology teacher Kellie Whited
Don’t try to finish college as fast as you can. This is the one time in your life where you get to immerse yourself in what you’re really passionate about.
Also, your first job out of college won’t be your career for life, so don’t be hard on yourself if it takes you awhile to figure out what you’re meant to do with your life or if you change majors halfway through. After all, I’m not a veterinarian like I thought I’d be, but I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else!
History teacher Damany Fisher
Explore internship opportunities. Start thinking now about what you want to do after college.
To me practical experience is really important, especially when it comes to developing the skills that are necessary to help one advance their professionalism and work ethic, so by the time they graduate college they will be competitive and ready to enter a profession of their choosing or graduate school.
Also, travel (in order to) get outside your comfort zone and explore the world.
Chemistry teacher Victoria Conner
Try ridiculous things, but do them safely. Be open; have fun experimenting and don’t be afraid to explore.
Head of high school Brooke Wells
Take a class in something you’ve never thought of before. I took a class on the history of Islam. It was fascinating. I also took Greek, and I ended up majoring in it, which is something I never thought I was going to be into.
Math teacher Patricia Jacobsen
You’re not invincible. I say that because I went to college in New York City, and I’m lucky to be alive with some of the stupid stuff I did, like walking around the city at 3 a.m., looking at Christmas lights. Like, you should not do that. My message would be no one’s invincible, so you should just be careful.
Originally published in the June 6 edition of the Octagon.