Now in College, AC Grads Sound More Like Their Parents and Teachers

Posted on January 10th, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

By John Palomaki

Get to bed earlier.
Don’t wait to the last minute to start your homework.
Get out of your room and make friends.
Do your laundry.
Talk to your teachers.
Manage your time.
Find your passion.
School work comes first.
Surround yourself with good people.
Turn your homework in on time.
Make sure you get enough sleep.
Just do the work.
Think about who you are.

Admonitions from parents or teachers? Not this time. These are some of the many tips Allendale Columbia graduates gave Upper School students based on their college experiences.

On January 8th,16 college students who graduated from AC within the last few years returned to campus for the annual College Life Program. It was a chance to reconnect with each other, say hello to their former teachers, and enjoy one more family-style lunch in the Dining Commons.

Their main reason for returning, though, was to share their insights with current AC students who are about to embark on their own college adventure in a few months as well as those from 9th-11th grades who are preparing for their post-secondary life. Most of the AC graduates arrived fresh from their first semester of higher education, and a few others were nearing the end of their college careers. Their advice, compiled and paraphrased in the following paragraphs, was genuine, encouraging, sometimes raw, and often insightful.

They advised on the college application process: Find your passion and show it in your essay. Be open to suggestions from Ms. Cocquyt (Kristin Cocquyt, AC College Advisor); I had a list of 20 colleges, she recommended a 21st, I applied to four including her recommendation, and that’s where I ended up going. Don’t be afraid to explore schools that are a little farther away. Go ahead and apply to some “reach” schools; I was surprised I got in to mine. Visit more schools; you’ll get a better feel and you can see things they don’t necessarily tell you in the materials. Make sure you understand your financial aid package. Email or reach out to professors in the programs you’re interested in to get more information.

Encouraging comments were universal: The academic work is not that hard. You’re smart enough. You’re well-prepared. There’s just more of it. After writing papers for Mr. Hunt, this was easy. Dr. Lawlis taught me everything already.

Some comments, particularly in the session with only current seniors, were a bit raw: Everyone here at AC is nice; there are so many more people at college, and not everyone you meet there is nice. There can be a lot of peer pressure (to drink, etc.); be strong and have good friends around you to stand up to it. Keep an eye on your stuff; laundry gets taken (though often accidentally and returned). It can sometimes feel overwhelming; I’m always surrounded by other people, and I’ve learned that I need time alone, too.

These comments seemed particularly insightful: Sometimes you just have to sit down and ask yourself the question, “who am I?”. Sometimes it takes a while to find the right friends, and they may not be the first people you meet, but you’ll find them. Get involved in clubs and activities; they’re great ways to meet people. There are so many things you can choose to do: you can stay up all night having fun, you can stay up all night studying, there are so many clubs and sports, you might have a job; you really have to manage your time well and remember that school work has to come first. You’ll find your balance.

Wisdom comes from experience, and even though the advice given echoes what today’s high schoolers might hear from parents or teachers, near-peers are often more relatable. That, along with the reassurance that AC students are well-prepared for the challenges of college, are what make AC’s annual College Life Program so meaningful.

A special thank you to our grads that returned to AC for the 2019 College Life Program:

James Bourtis ‘18 (Columbia University)
Andrew Drago ‘17 (University of Rochester)
Ben Frenett ‘16 (RIT)
Rotsirohawi Galban ‘18 (Harvard College)
Alan Johnson ‘18 (University of Buffalo)
Indy Maring ‘18 (University of Rochester)
Caroline Mealey ‘18 (Providence College)
Brandon Medina ‘18 (High Point University)
Kenny Mogauro ‘18 (Nazareth College)
Denzel Mwanangala ‘17 (Keuka College)
Luke Nicosia ‘17 (Dickinson College)
Taylor Osborne ‘15
Jaden Sowell ‘18 (Ohio University)
Khang Tran ‘17 (RIT)
Jordan Wynn ‘18 (New York University)
Tom Yi ‘16 (University of Rochester)

John Palomaki

John Palomaki

John is a parent of twin boys in Middle School at AC, an active volunteer, and occasional contributor of stories and photos. John spent a stimulating 10 years at Microsoft through the 90s as a systems engineer and managing executive relations programs. Since then, John has worked with non-profit organizations and has held leadership roles in independent schools in New Jersey and Connecticut in development, communications, and technology. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Natural Sciences (Biology) from Colgate University.
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Posted in: Alumni News, College Advising News, Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Ninth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

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