As my Winter break comes to an end and my Keurig usage hops into full swing once again, I just wanted to say hello to all of the prospective Macaulay at Hunter students on the page!
Recently, I was asked by my high school to speak at their annual Alumni Day, where both old alumni come back to speak as professionals and their work experience and recent alumni attending college or graduate/professional school come back to speak about their college experience. Because so many of you high school seniors are scoping out the MacBlog, I just wanted to offer some advice and things I've learned in my first semester as a college student:
- First things first, don't forget to enjoy your senior year! Time with your classmates is winding down, and senioritis is kicking into full swing as you enter your second term. Spend time with people that you love and take lots of pictures. Write letters to your favorite teachers before you leave about how much of a difference that they've made in your life. Tell your friends in their yearbooks about just how much you're going to miss them sitting behind you in your dreaded Calc class. Have a dope prom and afterprom, you deserve it. Congrats for getting through high school and all of your accomplishments!
- After Senior year, you will lose some friends -- and that's completely okay. People change and grow apart, and it's simply a fact of life. In high school, many people focus on popularity, who they know, and count their self-worth by the amount of Instagram likes that they receive. As I matured a bit and entered college, I've learned that it's definitely better to have a few tight knots than a hundreds of loose ends.
- Have an open mindset. Personally, as a high school senior, I applied to mainly 0-6 Pharmacy programs, dead-set on going to a Pharmacy school, with only a few schools -- including Macaulay at Hunter -- as exceptions. I went to Macaulay at Hunter because it not only provided me with irreplaceable opportunities, but it didn't lock me into a major. I wanted to be open to explore other career options. I had cold feet, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I've found interest in several different fields, such as Urban Studies, Sociology, Economics, and Community Health, all of which I wouldn't have thought of myself being interested in as a senior. Be open to new things, even if you definitely think that you know exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life. And yes, I am still Pre-Health, even though I've found interest in other fields.
- Try things out! Volunteer, shadow, or try to find an internship in a field that you're interested in. Don't think that these things are restricted to college students. I really wish I did this in high school.
- Challenge yourself and compete with yourself to be the best version that you can be.
- Don't forget to utilize the resources that your high school has. For example, my high school's Alumni Association is large and well-funded, and I found a shadowing opportunity through it recently by just contacting the Alumni Director and telling her what I was looking for in shadowing.
- When applying to and deciding on colleges as a senior, keep in mind your future plans -- including graduate school and professional school. One of my friends who also attends Macaulay at Hunter told me that her cousin is $800,000 in debt after completing both her Undergraduate and Graduate degrees. I don't think you want to be that person, and if given the opportunity to attend a program like Macaulay, jump on it.
- In a program as rigorous as Macaulay, take school and your GPA seriously. I wholly support indulging in senioritis while it lasts, but just be aware of the workload that you're going to have when entering college. Don't think that because you took hard classes in high school, you can continue to slack off. You'll definitely be in for a rude awakening upon entering college.
- Surround yourself with people who are just as motivated as you are. You will build off of each other's momentum.
- Don't compare yourself to other people. Just because something works for another person -- in terms of study habits, finding experience and outside opportunities, etc. -- it may not work for you. Input may not always equal output, and you have to learn how to be okay with that. Just because you know one person who doesn't have to study at all to get an A in the class, doesn't mean the same method will work for you. Don't even try it.
- Although grades are important, they definitely aren't everything. Trust me. This is coming from someone who ended high school with a 98.75 GPA. Networking, gaining experience in your desired field, and building up your resume are just as important. Don't sweat if you got an B+ instead of the A you wanted in a class.
- (This is kinda tangential but...) Speaking as a Macaulay at Hunter student specifically, I have become so grateful that I live in a single dorm with no roommates. As I caught up with friends from other colleges, I've heard some good things, and I've heard some horror stories. Regardless, dorming WILL teach you lots about independence and how to live without your parents and home-cooked meals all the time.
- Because college is an investment, you should spend it doing things that you enjoy, stepping out of your box, and finding things that you're passionate about. Read: Don't invest your time into something that's not important to you. You'll thank yourself.
- When you get to college, enjoy it while you can. It'll be a journey, and as stressful as it sounds, don't forget to have some fun. At one of the days of Orientation Week in August 2014, Macaulay at Hunter provided a breakfast for us before joining the other Macaulay campuses for a workshop. One of the alumni speakers said something I definitely agree with, "It's okay to stay up a little later on Sunday because you were doing other worthwhile things on Friday and Saturday night. Live a little. You only get these four years once."
As a freshman, I'm following this same exact advice I'm giving you. Although I've survived a semester, I still have a long way to go, and I'm constantly reminding myself of these things.
Finally, congratulations to you high school seniors for making it this far. The Macaulay Honors College is extremely competitive, and just the fact that you applied to (or, if you are a junior or underclassman, are considering applying to) Macaulay at Hunter means that you have some great tricks up your sleeve and lots for the world to offer.
I wish you all the best of luck.
- Katherine V., Class of 2018