At Cranston High School East the Media Center was alive on the Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving with chatter, hugs, and laughter as members of the graduating class of 2018 returned to their old stomping grounds. Their purpose in arriving at the school in the early morning hours was to pass along their wisdom as newly minted college freshmen to this year’s seniors as part of the school’s annual Reverse College Day.
The event is sponsored by the guidance department and has been held for more than two decades. It was run this year by Leslie Conley. The returning students hailed from colleges and universities across the New England area stretching up as far as Maine and included schools from within Rhode Island as well. They included two-year and four-year institutions and Ivy League universities, allowing the seniors to receive a wide range of advice from the freshmen.
The presentations ran twice, one hour after the next, for two different sets of seniors and were divided up into manageable groups of students based on schools and locations. The URI group was the first one to go. Jacob Nelson, advised the students to consider the times of their classes when creating their schedules.
“Even if you think you can get up for 8:00 a.m. classes, you probably can’t,” he said. “Fill your schedule with times where you’re going to be the most productive.”
Jielan Huang reminded students that at this point in their senior year they should have the Common Application underway, be searching for scholarships and working on their applications for financial aid.
Leah Struminsky spoke about Advanced Placement (AP) or Early Enrollment (EE) classes, and told the students to be sure to get the credits moved over from high school for college. “I was able to get an earlier registration options because I had credits coming into the school,” she said.
Jared Struminsky gave the students advice that will last them a lifetime.
“Be early,” he said. “You can’t be late if you’re early.”
He also told them to consider their roommate options if they’re thinking of rooming with someone they know.
“You always hear, ‘Don’t room with your friends,’” he said. “Really, really think about that. Some of your friends are good friends but they won’t make good roommates.”
Anthony Florenz told the students to be open-minded in choosing classes and schools.
“When you’re taking your general education classes it’s good to diversify the classes to get a taste of each area. It’s also good to know that it’s not that big a deal where you’re going to for undergraduate school if you’re planning to go to graduate school from there. Worry more about the financial aspects and other things that you find important. Don’t be nervous, be open-minded. What you think about college isn’t what it is when you get there.”
Benjamin Morris expressed his dislike for his eight o’clock classes and encouraged the students to get into the habit of setting a routine for their days early on.
A question for the URI students came from the audience about the types of extra curricular activities they’ve taken advantage of, and the answers ranged from a puppy raiser club where guide dogs are raised to a Habitat to Humanity club, astronomy club and psychology club.
When asked if they felt prepared for college after their high school education at East, Leah Struminsky responded that if students put in their best efforts in high school, they would be very prepared for college.
Students who were attending colleges outside of Rhode Island were the next group to speak.
Michelle Xie was attending Clark University in Worcester, and echoed those who told the students not to procrastinate, noting that work will pile up.
“Do all of your work first and then have your fun later,” she said.
Shevanna Yee attends Boston College and told the students not to be afraid to reach out to their professors. She also encouraged them to take the size of their schools and classes into consideration when making their decisions.
Eve Francazio attends St. Anselm College in Manchester New Hampshire and said that her favorite thing about her freshman experience so far has been meeting new people and making new friends.
When asked what she would have done differently, Francazio said that she wished she’d spaced out her classes so that there was more time in between each one for food and restroom breaks. She also reminded the students in what was becoming a common theme among the speakers, not to procrastinate.
“There is a lot of work,” she said. “A lot. More than I thought. Nap when you can.”
Rossini Felix attends the University of New England in Maine and said that she likes the distance away from home which is just far enough and yet just close enough, and the small campus. She advised students to do their homework after class and to get plenty of sleep.
Chelsea Asare is at Harvard and has enjoyed meeting so many new people from all over the world. She recommended students connect with their professors.
“Be sure to make use of the professors’ office hours and make use of your advisors. Befriend the upper classmen. If your school has a pre-orientation, I recommend it. It’s a good way to get to know the campus,” she said.
Angel Mercedes was the only representative from the Community College of Rhode Island at last week’s presentation and he is attending on the RI Promise Scholarship. “Take advantage of the time you have here,” he said. “When you go to college you will find out who you are, you’ll find friends and learn about careers.”
He also agreed with the students who advised the students to map out their days.
“Know what you’re doing, when and how you’re getting from one place to another, make sure you have money for lunch,” he said. “Use good time management and know when you have classes and when you have time to work.”
Students attending other Rhode Island schools besides URI and CCRI were the final group to speak in the first session. They included students attending Brown, Johnson and Wales University, Roger Williams University, Rhode Island College, and Bryant University.
Donovan Figueroa attends JWU and emphasized how important scholarships are for helping afford the skyrocketing costs of college. “Financial aid is not going to be enough, so that’s where scholarships come in handy,” he said. He also brought up the important topic of mental health. “Know that there are counselors, people on campus at all the schools,” he said. “Talk to an RA, or talk to a psychologist. Talk, vent, discuss what’s going on.”
Trinity Potter, a student at RWU agreed and stressed the importance of not being stressed.
“Mental health is super-important,” she said. “If you’re stressed all the time you’re going to procrastinate and if you procrastinate your work is going to be crap and you won’t be able to get anything done. Take the time to relax. Please take care of yourselves. Talk to friends if you’re not comfortable seeing a therapist on campus, but know that there’s no shame in that. I promise you that some of the baddest kids on campus who go to parties all the time, they have an appointment on Thursdays.”
In talking about weekly appointments, she also recommended that students purchase a giant desk calendar where they can map out all of their classes, tests, and assignments so that they can see them all in one place for weeks at a time.
Cameron St. Lawrence is at Rhode Island College and he recommended that students consider who the professors are for each class and to read the reviews on Ratemyteacher.com. “Listen to what the kids are saying and beware of just the five-star teachers,” he said. “Sometimes you may be more comfortable with a three-star teacher.”
Brown University students Hannah Joyce and Nathaniel Hardy were happy with their choice of college and Joyce cited the newfound independence as being her favorite thing, but like those before her, she emphasized the importance of having a schedule and a plan for spreading assignments out and getting work done. “If you’re up at 2:00 a.m. it should be because you want to be, not because you have to be,” she said.
She told the students to appreciate their families now, while in high school.
“You’ll miss your siblings more than you think you will,” she said.
Hardy told the students that they should keep in mind that the transition from high school to college may not be an easy one. “Know that it’s not necessarily going to be an easy transition, especially if you don’t have a good roommate,” he said. “Take time for yourself and your mental health.”
Anna Botts attends the University of New Hampshire and came to the second session presentations. She strongly recommended students consider attending out of state schools and cautioned them against believing everything they see online. “It’s so neat to meet different people, different cultures and to learn that not everyone lives the same way everywhere,” she said. “Don’t be affected by what you see on social media. Everyone’s showing pictures that first week and I was even in pictures that first week with people I haven’t seen since the first day. It’s not all real, it’s all a front.”
Brenna Rojek attends Bryant University and was one who spoke during the second session about the importance of joining clubs and activities.
“I would not like my school as much as I do if I hadn’t joined the rugby club,” she said. “It’s only two hours a day, every day.”
She encouraged the seniors to take advantage of honors programs if they are recommended for them at acceptance time, and to drop later on once they’ve experienced the programs and their benefits. Potter had a great deal of good advice to pass along throughout both sessions, but passed along one especially poignant piece near the conclusion of the two hours. “Don’t forget to enjoy it,” she said. “College is really fun. Go to all the freshman activities, try all the campus clubs. Get involved. You could potentially find your major that way.”