AHS Alumni Panel

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AHS Alumni Panel

Rebecca Tao, Staff Writer

On Jan. 8, a panel of former AHS students discussed their transition from high school to college, as well as their new academic and social life. Juniors and seniors were especially encouraged to attend and ask questions.

   Some of the advice the panelists gave regarding the college application process included that it is less intimidating than it seems and that it was pretty straightforward. For instance, alumnus James Low said that “the college application obviously differs from college to college, but most of them follow a similar pattern of asking about you. Many of them ask for a personal experience about change or leadership. Some have stranger questions like, ‘What’s your favorite music?’ The key is to choose questions that you have a passion for. Even if you don’t have the best grades, showing passion and quirks is a good way to catch the attention of colleges. It’s good to apply to many colleges. I’d say about at least 5 and at most 15.”

Alumnus Cesar Santiago-Hernandez described how “applying to PCC was fairly simple, thanks to my AVID class back when I was in AHS, it made the whole process very straight forward.”

Meanwhile, Alumna Joanna Lin described her application process as “difficult but definitely manageable. I remember that filling in all the technical personal information online would strain my eyes and take hours to complete. My advice to current students thinking ahead about applying would be to reflect on themselves deeply before they start to write. Also, it’s really important for students to internalize that there is no perfect college and wherever they end up going does not determine their worth.”

Moving forward, the alumni elaborated on how college life differs from high school and how high school prepared them for college. James replied that “College is responsibility test. You [have] to do the laundry yourself. You have to manage your budget yourself. Most importantly, you have to manage your lifestyle yourself. Arcadia High does a great job at teaching us how to study, so I wouldn’t worry too much, but you better get some sleep and go to bed early if you don’t want to be late for that 7 AM class.”

Cesar agreed with James and added how “in college you’re expected to do everything yourself, from showing [up] to class, buying your own books, and even your own test papers. In college, everything is on you.” Joanna also seconded this and said that “In high school, I saw college as the end goal and that all my stress would dissolve once I reached it. College now definitely requires a lot of effort and causes quite a bit of stress at times. My view of college changed as my professors passionately lectured in class and I learned, not only the material but the importance of enjoying the learning process.”

When asked about why they chose their specific college, the alumni shared a variety of responses. James commented on how his parents and teachers suggested the University of Iowa to him. He also stated that “you don’t have to have a good reason to choose a college. Many people transfer multiple times.  I’m even considering transferring to UC right now.” In addition, Caesar said that he chose PCC because of the simple application process.

For Joanna, she based her decision on if the college offered financial aid or not. In the end, Joanna chose Bowdoin College and she describes her choice as “primarily for the resources they provided, such as being able to have deeper connections with professors because of small class sizes and being able to take on research more easily (compared to a large public university). Also, I really liked the community Bowdoin tries to foster. Not only to the outside community by volunteering service, but internally through the students. The inclusive community built through the programs held on campus, along with the inviting personality every faculty member on campus has drawn me to the College.”

Overall, our alumni are doing exceptionally well in college, and they attribute much of that to what they did and learned in college. Cesar and James advised current high schoolers to continue to focus on their studies and grades to be prepared for the expectations of college. From these alumni, we can learn to better ourselves not just academically, but also develop our interests and envision the college and career path we may conquer.