By Julia Baker, Associate Director of College Counseling
As a college counselor, my days are filled with helping students apply to college. At times, it feels like students, parents, and counselors are so focused on “getting in” that all of us forget to pause and ask the more important question, “What happens after I get there?”
MB’s College Counseling office attempted to demystify post-college application life this January when we hosted a panel of MB alumni now in college. Current MB juniors and seniors were invited to attend an informal discussion led by five recent MB grads: Josh Jaspers, Jake Slovin, Megan Fantes, and Jennifer Tudino from the Class of 2014 and Claudia Marzec from the Class of 2015.
The panelists were eager to reflect upon their college search, offer advice about the transition to campus life, and answer questions from students in the audience: seniors who are heading to college in the fall, and juniors about to embark upon the college process. Topics ranged from the more serious, like how academic advising works?, to the more lighthearted: how to choose a roommate? (Most students agree that it is better to be randomly assigned!)
Alumni on the panel hailed from a wide-range of institutions, each bringing a unique perspective they were excited to discuss. Jennifer Tudino, a sophomore in the College of Pharmacy at URI, talked about the tough but wise decision to take organic chemistry over the summer to lighten her load during the school year. Megan Fantes, a student in her second year at Boston University, talked about visiting the BU campus as an accepted student and immediately knowing it was “the one.” Jake Slovin, who is at Hamilton College, spoke about being accepted for the spring term and spending his first semester in London. A sophomore at the University of Virginia, Josh Jaspers gave advice on how to get involved in campus life at a large public university. Among other activities, Josh gives historical tours of UVA’s campus. Claudia Marzec discussed the athletic recruitment process that brought her to Saint Francis University, one of the few colleges that allows her to be a varsity athlete in field hockey and study physical therapy as a first year student.
Though each of the five panelists had a different path to college and a different experience once they got there, they shared a commonality: the preparedness provided by MB. Every student on the panel spoke about the time-management, writing, and speaking skills ingrained in them during their MB years which helped ease the transition to college life.
Sofia D., a senior in the audience, found the panel to be a good use of time as she prepares to head to college in the fall. “I really enjoyed the panelists because the decision on attending a college or university is a large choice and sometimes it is reassuring to hear students who will speak about the reality of college life. By having past students talk about their experiences, it makes the thought process about making the big jump to college student much easier to visualize.”
I sometimes joke with my counselees that I became a college counselor because I never wanted to leave college. I also often tell students that one of my favorite parts of my job is reconnecting with former students, particularly those who ended up at a college where they did not initially see themselves. But while I could go on for hours imparting my own wisdom on college life (based on experiences that are, ahem, more than a decade old), I’ve been doing this for long enough to know that in in order for students to truly listen, some of the best advice comes straight from the source.
It seems like the panelists know this too, which is why they were glad to help. Perhaps Jennifer Tudino said it best when she responded to my invitation to serve on the panel. “I love talking to students applying to college about how I thought I knew exactly where I wanted to go, and ended up at the one place I thought I’d never be and really love it. When they hear that from a college counselor they are all like, ‘Yeah sure, you’re paid to say that,’ but it truly is a reality coming from me.”
(Julia, along with Helen Montague, Annie Reznik, and Jill Stockman, comprise the Moses Brown College Counseling Office.)