Alums Return with Firsthand College Advice

On Jan. 8, a group of young Williston alums came back to Williston to share their college process and experience to the juniors and seniors.

There were two different panels: one for juniors and one for seniors. The junior panel consisted of six alums, including Ellie Wolfe ’19, Bryan Soder ’18, Catherine King ’19, Sofia Flores ’18, Natalie Romain ’18, and Couper Gunn ’18. The senior panel consisted of Bryan Bates ’16, Natalie Aquadro ’17, Jack Phelan ’18, Shana Hecht ’18, Sophie Carellas ’18, JJ Celentano ’16, and Bina Sweet ’17.

The alums gave  advice about touring and applying to colleges, as well as writing college essays.

The Willistonian spoke to alum and freshman at Bates College, Ellie Wolfe, before the panel. It is her first time back on campus since graduation. “I am excited about going back to Williston but also nervous,” she said. “I am excited to see some of my favorite teachers and the underclassmen that I missed.” (Ellie was the Editor-in-Chief of The Willistonian last year.)

Although Williston has been a big part of her life, she said that “it doesn’t feel like her place anymore” since graduation.

She chose to come back because she remembered being in the exact same position.

“Some of my favorite class assemblies were the ones where we could hear from alums,” she continued. “Not only because it was nice to see them, but also because it gave me the opportunity to look forward and think more about my own college process.”

The alums introduced themselves and talked about their previous involvements with the Williston community. It was a Q&A with Ms. Garrity asking questions and the alums sharing their experience.

All of them emphasized the importance of touring colleges to get a good sense about the community they wanted to be in. “I started touring the summer before senior year,” said Natalie. “I only toured six colleges.”

She continued, “I wish I toured more because I did not get into my top choice. I wish I toured more of my safety schools.”

Ellie encouraged everyone to tour colleges with an open mind. “I went to some places and toured  colleges there even if I  wasn’t interested in. I toured big and small universities.”

They also gave some helpful tips about interviews and how they handled theirs.

Couper told the audience that it is okay to brag about yourself in the interviews. “You have to be to the point of being arrogant, but not too arrogant,” he said. “You want to brag about yourself. You have to think about reasons why the school should want you and why the school deserves you, and not only why you deserve the school.”

On the other hand, Natalie felt like she could have approached the situation another way. “I overprepared, I would probably try to make it more personal and friendly with them. It could really help you if you could get a nice personal connection,” she said.

Ellie jokingly said that It would be “super uncomfortable” if you do not ask any questions, which the audience laughed at.

The alums tackled the difficult process of college essays.

Bryan Soder explained that being unique is very important. “I wanted to stand out and not be super cliché, and I worked with my college counselor and my then English teacher.”

Sofia Flores wrote her essay about dropping her phone in a toilet on an airplane and spending ten days in England with it. “You want to have a situation and make it something interesting and tailored. Colleges really like fun stuff because it makes you stand out.”

Their advice included to not just focus on one school, to have backups, to apply to schools you only want to go to, to be okay to not go to your dream school, to tour more schools, and to take the college process  more seriously.

Catherine King concluded with making the junior class feel hopeful. “It is not the end of the world if you don’t get into your dream school,” she said. “College is a lot easier and don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and enjoy your last two years of high school.”