More than a dozen recent Lincoln Academy graduates returned to the Poe Theater last week to share their college experiences with the LA Class of 2016. They visited the campus as part of an annual LA Graduate Panel that takes place when college students are home for winter break.
Guidance Counselor Cynde Ferrill remarked that, “This event is a long standing tradition at LA, initiated over two decades ago by former math teacher Fran Dixon, who recognized the value of older graduates sharing their college experiences with those about to enter the postsecondary realm. Some years passed when the panel didn’t run but, in recent years, the Guidance Department revitalized the event and it has once again become quite popular and continues to be very beneficial for our students.”
“The panel was very helpful,” said Lincoln Academy senior Addison Vermillion, who is in the midst of her own college application process. “The students were very informative about every different kind of college situation. I especially enjoyed the diversity of the group, as each individual had a different experience and different story to share.”
Current Lincoln Academy seniors asked questions about all aspects of college life, including the workload, the social life, class and campus size, and how hard it is to transfer.
Seniors Luke Huntington and Sam Bailey were curious about Greek life at college.
Devin Scherer ‘15, who attends the University of Maine in Orono (UMaine), said that even though there is no pledge process at UMaine, being part of a fraternity has “broadened the scale of people I know and friends I have made. Upperclassmen in my fraternity have helped me with classes,” and the overall support system has helped him adjust to college.
Rowan Carroll-Christopher ‘15, who is a freshman at Northeastern, said she had no intentions of joining a sorority, but that she also hadn’t met a lot of people on campus, even after joining a water polo club. “I went out for a recruitment event–kind of like speed-dating–and received a bid” for a sorority. She is very happy with the decision to pledge, even though she never expected it. “It is a great support system, and we do a lot for surrounding community.”
Senior Elise Dumont asked the panel for college interview advice.
Ashley Mason ‘15 (UMaine, Orono) and Leslie Sandefur ‘15 (Boston College) agreed that students should not over prepare. “just be yourself and they’ll end up liking you,” advised Mason.
Thomas Rushton ‘15, who is studying architecture at Cornell, said, “expect something that you’re not expecting” and that although specific interview preparation is not necessary, it can help to “brush up on some knowledge,” especially if students plan to apply to a specialized program like architecture.
Many students were curious about the differences between small and big colleges, and the panel engaged in a lively discussion. Michaela Peabody ‘15, who attends Colby-Sawyer College in New London, NH, loves being on a small campus, where “you recognize people you walk past on campus, and professors know your name, and you can ask them for help.”
Other panel members said there are strengths to bigger campuses as well. “It depends on the atmosphere you want in a school. There are pros of being at a big school,” said Leslie Sandefur, who is very happy at Boston College. “Alumni connections and career services are sometimes stronger at a bigger school. Don’t be intimidated!”
“You can find small classes at a big college,” said Thilee Yost ‘15, who attends UMaine. “Professors still get to know you.”
Thomas Rushton summed up this idea, saying, “It is not as big a difference as you think, and it depends a lot on your major. Even on a big campus, once you get in a major, you are with the same people for a lot of the same classes. Big schools become small schools if you want them to be.”
Current high school seniors were particularly interested in time management challenges and and the college workload. The college students had a lot of advice to offer.
“You have a lot more time in college than you think,” said Danielle Pinkham ‘15, who is a freshman at St. Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine. “Do well in school, but don’t study the whole time!”
Time management is a difficult skill to learn, advised Mitch Boucher ‘13, who is studying Music Composition at the University of Southern Maine. “There are so many things you have to learn to balance, and takes time. But you do get better at it.”
“The workload might be tough, but if it’s something you want to do it’s no big deal, said Devin Scherer. “There is a lot you have to teach yourself, but if you stay on top of your homework you can handle it.”
Nancy Billings ‘15 attends Wesleyan University in Connecticut, and was intimidated at first by her classes, and especially by her classmates. “A lot of students [at Wesleyan] went to fancy prep schools, and I questioned if was smart enough to be there at first. But the workload is manageable, and I am getting used to being there.”
“You have to have a strong work ethic in college,” finished Ashley Mason. “Your professors don’t really know you, and aren’t invested in your future as teachers at Lincoln are. You have to respect that your family is paying for college, and work as hard as you can to succeed.”
Armed with this new insight from their peers, the Lincoln Academy Class of 2016 left the Poe Theater prepared to face the challenges of senior spring and the adventures beyond.