College Annies Return

On Wednesday, January 6, eighteen girls who graduated from Annie Wright and are currently in college returned to their alma mater to shed some light on the college experience for high school students. The Great Hall was crowded with students, teachers and alumni as nearly grown-up Annies shared their stories and pieces of advice from university.

Here are some of their comments:

How prepared were you? What was a big change that you had to adapt to? Zoe Keskey ’14: “Overall I felt very prepared going into college from AWS. One of the major differences (even though I went to a small college) was the larger class sizes and learning how to speak up in class when you’re in a big lecture hall.” Sam Gabales ’14: “Academically I felt very prepared, but it was a big shift to deal with a lot of free time. I have a lot of independence and time to do whatever I want, and in the beginning it was hard for me to manage it. It’s important to take advantage of that time.”

How do I pick a school? Sara Pelster ’15: “To pick a school, definitely visit and spend some time on their campus. I actually went to sports games because I knew I wanted a big school, and it really helped me decide.” Alexa Brenner ’14: “Listen to Mr. Hansen – he knows! The only reason I’m at the school I am is because of him.” Sam Gabales ’14: “To pick a school, spend the night if they provide that as an option. I did it and it was an awesome experience.” Haley Parks ’13: “Talk to teachers. Ask them, ‘Where do you see me?’ They really know you (which is one of the major benefits of Annie Wright) and can help with hard decisions.” Elly Mcmanus ’15:“I didn’t want to come out of college with huge debt, so I only applied to five or six schools and went with the one that gave me the most money, and that’s okay!

Advice on Sports? Margaux Arnston ’14: “I can’t image playing D1 because it is so much work. I play varsity volleyball for a D3 school. I go to school early every day and end up spending like five to six hours a day with my team. It is definitely worth it though – I got to know all these girls who share my passion and I had an automatic support system as soon as I entered college, which was amazing.” Zoe Keskey ’14: “Even at a D3 school, playing varsity is a huge commitment and I felt a lot of pressure so I ended up going JV. It’s a tough decision – you have to choose where you really want to invest your time.”

What should I wear? Margaux Arnston ’14: “Keep it simple, don’t overthink it. It definitely depends on the campus and style of school, but don’t worry too much about it!”

How do I get into college? Margaux Arnston ’14: “The best way to get into college is to interview. Meet somebody and tell them about yourself and make a good impression.”

Should I take a gap year? Zoe Keskey ’14: “I think students who have taken gap years really enrich the classes because they all come in with difference experiences. I didn’t take a gap year, but everybody I know who did was glad they did.” Elly Mcmanus ’15: “I took a gap year. It was really beneficial for me, but you should talk to your specific school. Also- don’t ask about a gap year until after you get accepted! There are amazing things you can do during a gap year, but it definitely depends on your specific school.”

Should I join a sorority? Sam Gabales ’14: “I like my sorority a lot – I encourage you all to go through the recruitment process even if you’re ambivalent about joining because it will show you what it’s like.” Haley Parks ’13: “Sororities are a great way to meet people, and don’t worry – they don’t haze like they do in the movies. Definitely go through the recruitment process – if nothing else, it’s a great way to see new parts of campus that you wouldn’t otherwise go to.” Quinn Grom ’15: “At my school we have theme houses, which are really cool. I don’t live in the freshmen dorm – I live in a social justice theme house. They host cool events like concerts with student bands.”

How do I choose my major? Leslie Bauska ’13: “I’ve switched majors three times. I think it’s really important to love what you’re doing because you don’t have as much time in college as you think you do.”

Was the IB diploma worth it? Leslie Bauska ’13: “The IB diploma was definitely worth it. It teaches you time management and helps you go into college being really prepared.” Amanda Marston ’14: “IB doesn’t always get you college credit – it depends on the school. I got 12 credits though, and I am going to graduate early!” Margaux Arnston ’14: “I highly recommend it; it helps with college apps and people in the college community really respect it.”

Should I stay close to home or go to school far away? Do you get homesick? Alexa Brenner ‘14: “Do it! Go far away and be an adult. I love being self reliant and I love knowing that I can be far away and still cake care of myself. I’d rather get a call at 2 am from my mom than a surprise visit at 2 pm.” Amanda Marston ’14: “Friends you make are really like your family. You will find your people, and school will become your home, so don’t worry.” Olivia Steffen ’15: “I’m super close to my family and had never been away from them very much at all. I was nervous that I would be really homesick, but I wasn’t. I made friends and created a support network.” Sam Gabales ’14: “Go far away because Tacoma is always going to be your home and you’re probably never going to get the change to go live somewhere far away while still having your home in Tacoma.”

General Advice Margaux Arnston ’14: “Try new things. You’re going to have a lot of free time and you need to make sure to utilize it. Overstretch yourself when you first get to college in terms of clubs and activities so that you find what you love and meet people.” Sam Gabales ’14: “Make your schedule and the map of your campus your wallpaper on your phone. You don’t want to get lost or be late to your first class!” Olivia Steffen ’15: “Be open academically. Don’t be scared to change your major and try new things.” Stephanie Robinson ’13: “Perspective is really important – remember college is not the end all or conclusions, but really more of a first step. While you’re in high school it’s hard to see part college, but it really is just the beginning.” Sophia Keskey ’13: “Get off campus – get to know the city that you’re living in.” Quinn Grom ’15: “Your college experience is about you – don’t obsess about stereotypes or what other people think about you or the colleges that you apply to.” Haley Parks ’13: “Don’t be afraid of the other. Take a risk and talk to the first person you see on campus. Amanda Marston ’14: “Value your experience at Annie Wright. Don’t wish for it to be over but instead feel lucky to be here and take advantage of the amazing community, support system, and opportunity.”