Alumni Offer Tips For College Success

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For most high school seniors, excitement and nerves clash as they think about not only where to attend college, but what that college experience will feel like. To alleviate those anxious feelings, the Locust Valley High School Guidance Department organized the school’s annual Alumni Day on Jan. 3, which allowed students to hear firsthand from their peers what college life is really like and the best ways to prepare for success.

A group of 34 recent LVHS graduates served as panel members and shared personal stories about their biggest challenges and the strategies that best helped them overcome these difficulties. Those that challenged themselves in high school with International Baccalaureate courses said they were well prepared for the enormous amount of writing required at the collegiate level.   

The seniors asked excellent questions. “How do you make friends with so many students on campus?” some asked. The most popular answer was to join clubs. Alumni, representing 28 colleges, recommended joining as many clubs as possible and then sticking with the ones that felt most comfortable for them. They explained this would help them make friends and provide many social opportunities.

The seniors also wanted to know how to maintain top grades in a more challenging environment. They were told to take full advantage of professors’ office hours, to share with their professors their personal goals and to obtain feedback on the best way to succeed in each class.

Other topics included choosing roommates, how often to visit home and how to manage homesickness. Some of the alumni stressed the importance of establishing strong time management skills, while others recommended sitting in the first few rows of a large lecture to help the class feel smaller.

Following the informal discussions, which took place in small groups, the alumni participated in a college fair for sophomores and juniors. The underclassmen had the opportunity to visit individual alumni and ask questions about their specific schools, which helps them as they decide to which schools they should apply.

Locust Valley High School Assistant Principal Michelle Villa said both portions of Alumni Day served an important purpose. “It is extremely beneficial for seniors to have an opportunity to ask questions and learn about college life from those they can relate to,” she said. “The information they receive can help them make final decisions about which colleges to attend and can ensure that they will be more prepared for college life.” 

Ms. Villa added that the underclassmen are well served by hearing about colleges from younger people, as they may find it more difficult to relate to college admissions representatives.