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Alumni Provide Insight for College Applicants

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Familiar faces walked the halls of Locust Valley High School as alumni returned to their alma mater for the school’s annual Alumni Day on Jan. 3. Approximately three dozen alumni represented a diverse group of colleges and universities from across the country. 

The college students, from freshmen to upperclassmen, answered questions from seniors who were split into four groups to better accommodate discussions. A school counselor facilitated each group discussion, encouraging seniors to ask anything and everything that was on their minds. Topics included the difficulty of academics, pros and cons of campus locations, commuting compared with living on campus and more.
Having alumni return to the high school to share their college experiences offers a lesson that cannot be taught in the classroom. Students and counselors benefit from the firsthand information that these graduates provide.
Following the breakout session, the guests were part of an alumni fair for high school juniors. Manning tables with the name of their colleges displayed, the alumni were visited by juniors with an interest in that school. The alumni fair was a new addition to the annual Alumni Day schedule. High School Assistant Principal Michelle Villa said she wanted to extend this opportunity to juniors who have college weighing heavily on their minds.
Ms. Villa said hearing about college life from their peers is far more valuable to high school students than hearing about it from a teacher or another adult. “They can relate to the alumni and trust their opinions about dorm life, academics and everything college-related,” she said.
For counselors, it’s also helpful to hear from their former students about their experiences and how those experiences compared to their expectations. Ms. Villa explained that counselors visit colleges and universities to learn as much as they can about each one; however, that information doesn’t compare to firsthand details from a student they know. “Information from alumni helps our counseling staff better direct current and future students based on the experiences of their past students,” she said.