Teacher Alumni Advice: “every school has its strengths and challenges”

Luna Wang, Senior Staff Writer

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  According to Wayzata High School teachers, college and post-secondary programs are unique to everyone and there are a lot of factors to these decisions.
  “For me, I’m an introvert, so I knew it was important for me to look at small colleges for the most part. Size was an important piece, as well as quality,” said Macalester College Alumna Alumna McIntyre.
  According to McIntyre, she wanted to go to a school in an urban location because she feels that when it’s that rural, students tend to focus socially on drinking, while the location of an urban school like Macalester offers many other interesting things to do.
  “I chose St. Olaf because I loved the feel of the campus, and there was a certain comfort of knowing that I had family there, which helped make the scary transition after high school a bit less scary,” said St. Olaf College Alumna Kelsey Blum.
  University of Wisconsin-Madison Alumni Dan Goodrich said he picked Madison over Gustavus Adolphus College because he felt the small size of Gustavus would feel too much like high school.
  “I found the professors very accessible, though you could tell at times that some were there more to research and publish while others were there to teach,” said Goodrich.
  Dartmouth College Alumna Audra Rudys said it wasn’t so much the classes she took for her major that molded her college experience.
  “I joined a co-ed fraternity, and just had a lot of real conversations with real people that were different from myself in different ways. These were the sorts of experiences that really shaped me, and honestly are more valuable than the actual degree,” said Rudys. “The degree gets you
into the door of the company, but these are the experiences that actually make me good at what I do or pursue.”
  “I thoroughly enjoyed my college experience,” said Michigan State University Alumni Mark Johnston. “I was inspired academically, I had a very active social life, and I experienced a huge milestone when I met the young woman who eventually became my wife. In fact, we met on the first day.”
  “To say that I enjoyed my time is, I guess you could say no, because academically, it was so much of a stretch for me,” said United States Military Academy Alumni Bruce Wilson. “I do have long-lasting relationships that I enjoy right now. I am very proud of where I graduated from: it’s opened a lot of doors for me.”
  “While you’re there, it’s a grind. I had to take 21 and a half hours for my first semester, which nowadays, the normal workload is 14 to 16 hours a semester,” said Wilson, who had Saturday classes every other week.
  “When you graduate from a service academy, people ask how much did you sacrifice?” said Wilson. “When you go to a service academy, that is not a true college experience. You’re preparing yourself to be an officer in the armed forces.”
  Wilson said if he were to do it all over again, he would still decide to go to West Point. “When you graduate from an institution like that and you’re applying for jobs, your resume moves to the top of the list just because of where you graduated from,” said Wilson.
  University of Missouri Alumna Renee Heiland said that when she started in journalism following college, she got an amazing internship and great job.
  “I also was awarded some scholarships in journalism that were so essential during my college tenure,” said Heiland. “I had an amazing career in journalism that was fantastic when I was young and set the platform for when I wanted to try something new.”
  Miami University Alumna Jen Landy, Montana State University Alumna Tika Kude and Indiana University Alumna Grace Lephart said they had help from parents in paying for college.
  “I had a pretty mixed financial package, comprised of scholarship money, student loans, and student grants. I made up the rest by working at a job while I attended school,” said Johnston.
  “Students are applying to a lot more colleges now,” said McIntyre. “It’s a lot more competitive than it used to be, and I think because students apply to around ten schools, the schools have to sort through a lot more, which makes it harder to get it in.”
  McIntyre said students are also more aware of things, such as the importance of the SAT and ACT.
  “When I took the SAT, I didn’t know that you could study. I was a commended merit scholar, and I thought maybe I could have been a national merit scholar if I had studied for it,” said McIntyre.
  “Back in the 1980s, all applications were done on paper copies and had to be mailed. We didn’t have the convenience of applying online,” said University of North Dakota Alumna Deb Musser.
  Blum said she went into St. Olaf as a proposed theatre major. She considered majoring in education, and ended up graduating with a degree in history and a concentration in racial and multicultural studies.
  “So much of college is learning more about yourself and growing as an independent individual. Life is an adventure and while it’s great to have a plan, know that these plans will inevitably change, either by choice or chance,” said Blum.
  “Really explore the campus and surrounding area during college visits to make sure the community is appealing enough to live there for at least four years,” said Johnston.
  “Ask: what are you looking for in a school? Every school has its strengths and challenges,” said Heiland. “It can be especially challenging
when you are established in high school and you start college as another new face. It’s equal wonderful and scary at times.”
  “Find a community to connect with, whether it’s your dorm, a Greek organization, a volunteer group, or a club,” said Lephart.
  Lephart encourages students planning on going to a large school to advocate for themselves.
  “You will learn so much more about yourself by stepping away from what you know,” said Kude.
  “It’s a little like stepping off a cliff: you have to take a risk, just hope for the best and realize if you didn’t make a good choice … you can always change,” said Goodrich. “Students have a lot of pressure to make the right choice, but in the end most people make the best of wherever they land.”

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