ELMSFORD, N.Y. ‒ Freedom is Jesse Young's favorite thing about college ‒ but handling it is also his biggest challenge, the Alexander Hamilton High School alumnus said.
Young joined a panel of six other Hamilton graduates Monday at an event hosted by the school's guidance department. The program, now in its third year, is an effort to address current high school students' questions and fears about college, guidance counselor Stephanie Luccioni said.
"We try to cover all venues," Luccioni said of the program, which features students from different schools and with different majors. "They [the high school kids] have to see all these different areas about college."
Panelists discussed dorm life, classes, studying, internships and how to ease the transition between high school and college. Young, who attends Princeton, said he enjoys the freedom of living alone, but added that with that freedom comes responsibility.
"You're surrounded by your friends and peers all the time, and there's no one telling you to go to class," Young said. "That combination can be dangerous. It puts more responsibility on you as a student."
Arun Nair, a student at the University of Science in Philadelphia, said that while he sometimes joked around in high school classes, he had to learn to take college much more seriously.
"It finally hits you ‒ college is no joke," said Nair, adding that high school students should look into taking AP exams to earn college credits. "When you get to college, it's the real deal, and everything matters."
The panel also addressed the importance of joining clubs to meet people and learning how to deal with new roommates. Hamilton Principal Marc Baiocco told the students these were "the most important thing[s] you're going to experience other than your academics."
SUNY Binghamton student Kathleen Gonzales stressed the importance of meeting people to include in study groups, especially because you don't receive as much help from teachers as you did in high school.
"You won't get as close to your professors like you do with your teachers here," Gonzales said.
Hamilton junior Sandra Mojica, who plans to apply to Iona College, said she found the panel helpful to some of the questions she had about life after high school.
"They gave us a lot of information that I didn't know about financial decisions, and how it's not easy to manage your time," Mojica said. "Also, to take advantage of sleep."