If you really want to get the inside scoop on the college experience, your best source is a college student. This morning, Wildwood hosted eight college students—who also happen to be proud Wildwood alums—at a special panel discussion for juniors and seniors.
The panelists represented a broad mix of institutions, from the huge (Charlie Shulman ’11 from University of Arizona, with more than 36,000 students) to the small (Morgan Brown ’11 from Eugene Lang College in New York.) They talked about everything from studying for mid-terms to adapting to icy climates. In fact, cold weather was a hot topic.
“I don’t like it,” said Noah Cohen ’11, who is attending Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh. “I’m a cry baby and I can’t deal with the cold weather. I have to take vitamin D.”
Chiara Rosenbaum ’11 is attending Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. She found that she likes the Midwest – and even has adapted to the chilly, windy weather. But she said the experience of living away from Los Angeles has made her appreciate home much more.
One thing Morgan said he missed was rubrics. “I knew exactly what was expected of me,” he told the juniors and seniors. Still, he said the Habits of Mind and Heart of have served him well at Eugene Lang. “In college, the Habits really do make a difference,” he said. “Especially when dealing with teachers, making friends, figuring out how to be active within your community, managing your time, and understanding yourself as a student.”
Time management was a common theme for other alums. “You own your schedule, and it’s tempting to stay up and hang out with friends,” said Jessi McDonald ’11, who is attending U.C. Berkeley. “It’s hard to get used to in the beginning, so make sure you are taking care of yourself and monitoring your schedule.”
All of the alumni on the panel agreed on a particular piece of advice: Get to know your professors. Take advantage of their office hours, and ask questions. “Teachers really do want to help you,” Jessi said. She and the other panelists encouraged the juniors and seniors to build the same kind of relationships with their college professors that they’ve established with their Wildwood teachers. “Get help if you need it,” said Emily Berkshire ’10, who is attending Boston University. “I wish I’d done more of that last year.”
Emily also had an answer to one student’s question about choosing a major. “Take a ton of different classes to see what you might be interested in during your freshman year,” she advised. It worked for her: Initially, Emily said she planned to major in psychology. Now a sophomore, Emily has declared her major in hospitality management.
Perhaps the most practical piece of advice came from Charlie, in response to a student’s question about a refrigerator versus a microwave oven in your dorm room. “Both!” Charlie exclaimed. “And tell them you’re kosher. That way, you get two refrigerators!”
Leave it to a Wildwood alum to come up with creative solution.