Ready, Set, Thrive: Urbana High School Alumni’s Handbook for College Readiness

Ready, Set, Thrive: Urbana High School Alumnis Handbook for College Readiness

     In the crowded hallways of Urbana High School, where the echoes of youthful chatter blend with the anticipation of future endeavors, a pivotal moment looms on the horizon for seniors. 

     The journey toward higher education is not merely a distant dream but a tangible reality drawing nearer with each passing day. 

     Scary to think about, right seniors? Do not fret, though, this article serves as a guide to help make your transition from the walls of UHS to the walls of your new home for the next four years. And, if you think you are alone in your fears about this new adventure, trust me, you are not. 

     I had the wonderful opportunity to interview some of our UHS Alumni who are now in college. Let’s see what they had to say about their readiness for college and how it differed once they arrived:

Jacob Barnhurst

Jacob Barnhurst, Bringham Young University Freshman 

What college do you attend? Why’d you choose it?

Barnhurst chose to attend BYU “because of its high quality education and active social life, surrounded by people with similar beliefs and standards as myself. The rocky mountains were definitely a plus too.”

Did the thought of going to college and leaving your home scare you?

“Leaving home was definitely intimidating, especially as the time grew nearer. However, I definitely felt a sense of excitement for my freshman year, hearing great things about college from friends and family.”

Now that you’ve been attending college for nearly a year, how would you describe your experience? 

“College has been an absolute blast” as he has been able to meet many new people, make connections, and find hobbies.

Looking back, do you feel your initial fears about college were justified or do you regret feeling scared?

“I think it’s totally okay to be intimidated by college, it’s a big step into the future! However, it’s definitely something to look forward to more than worry about, college is freaking awesome!!”

Maclaine Sipes

Maclaine Sipes, Frederick Community College Freshman

What college do you attend? Why’d you choose it?

Sipes attends FCC as the “tuition was better at the time and my major was undecided.”

Did the thought of going to college and leaving your home scare you?

“Yes it did, but after meeting new people, and realizing that it’s much more tedious than high school, the need to meet  new people and make yourself belong kind of goes away and everything just falls into place.”

Now that you’ve been attending college for nearly a year, how would you describe your experience?

“Since I go to a community school it’s not the same as a university, so meeting people and being more involved and engaged is lessened. However, teachers will always be there to help and do whatever they can to help you succeed, unless you have a strict teacher. Everyone is super nice and it’s a fresh start so don’t stress about who you were before college and instead show the new people what you’re all about. Everything will come in time.”

Looking back, do you feel your initial fears about college were justified or do you regret feeling scared?

“No not necessarily, there are many great things about college, more than there is to say about high school. I wouldn’t say I regret feeling scared, but I do think I had reason to feel the way I did.”

Caitlin Sigler

Caitlin Sigler, Fordham University Freshman

What college do you attend? Why’d you choose it?

“I currently attend Fordham University (Rosehill Campus) in NYC! I chose it for a multitude of reasons: location, the program for my major, their NROTC program, and the school colors to name a few. Honestly it was really just a gut feeling that made me want to go here and I’m glad it worked out!”

Did the thought of going to college and leaving your home scare you?

“The thought definitely did scare me, it’s nerve wracking leaving your home and your family, but I tried to remain optimistic and think about the fact that it’s a new opportunity and a fresh start.”

Now that you’ve been attending college for nearly a year, how would you describe your experience?

“I would say I’ve had an overall great first year experience! The academic side has been extremely rigorous and stressful, but I’ve been learning to adjust because that’s just how college is! I love the flexibility in my schedule and the independence I have being on my own. I also have found a decent work life balance which is allowing me to try and ‘savor my college years.’”

Looking back, do you feel your initial fears about college were justified or do you regret feeling scared?

“Honestly I wasn’t all that scared, like yes I was scared but I never cried or anything. Over the summer I went to New Student Indoctrination (NSI) which was like a Navy bootcamp I had to go to so I could be a midshipman in the NYC NROTC program.  I was so scared because that also involved being away from my family, by myself, and in a new place, so once I successfully graduated that everything else seemed a little less scary.”

Maggie Meredith

Maggie Meredith, University of Michigan Freshman

What college do you attend? Why’d you choose it?

“The University of Michigan. At the time it was one of the best programs for what I wanted to do, it had the vibes that I wanted and still love and I fell in love with the community/campus.”

Did the thought of going to college and leaving your home scare you?

“Yes, but I was also excited.”

Now that you’ve been attending college for nearly a year, how would you describe your experience?

“I really enjoy being in college and all that it brings. It has also brought opportunities and interests that I never thought I would find or enjoy and has just brought me so much joy in general, even on the bad days.”

Looking back, do you feel your initial fears about college were justified or do you regret feeling scared?

“I feel they were justified, with college has come tremendous change and it can be hard to follow. Change is hard and it’s okay to be scared, just don’t let fear get in the way of your opportunities. If I had I would not have found half the people and interests that I so enjoy.”

     Now that we have heard from our Alumni, let’s hear some thoughts and opinions from the seniors of Urbana High:

Yehonatan Vais

Yehonatan Vais, Urbana High School Senior

Have you committed to a college yet? If so, which one?

Vais has not committed to a college yet.

Are you prepared for the upcoming changes such as leaving your family and being on your own?

“I think I’m prepared but it will be difficult and confusing.”

Does the thought of college scare you or are you ready for the new adventure?

“It does scare me, however I am also excited for a change in my life.”

Ben Warner, Senior
Ben Warner

Ben Warner, Urbana High School Senior

Have you committed to a college yet? If so, which one?

Warner has not yet committed to a college but has been accepted by an institution.

Are you prepared for the upcoming changes such as leaving your family and being on your own?

“I believe that I am prepared for the upcoming changes. I will be free to pursue whatever I want, and I believe I am pretty self reliant.”

Does the thought of college scare you or are you ready for the new adventure?

“I am very much ready for this college adventure! I can’t wait to live someplace other than Maryland, (most likely Utah) and I can’t wait to meet new people!”

Aaliya Zubair

Aaliya Zubair, Urbana High School Senior

Have you committed to a college yet? If so, which one?

Zubair has not yet committed to a college.

Are you prepared for the upcoming changes such as leaving your family and being on your own?

“Yes I want to experience new challenges and independence.”

Does the thought of college scare you or are you ready for the new adventure?

“I’m ready for the new adventure!”

Estefany Santos Valladares

Estefany Santos Valladares, Urbana High School Senior

Have you committed to a college yet? If so, which one?

Santos has committed to Montgomery College.

Are you prepared for the upcoming changes such as leaving your family and being on your own?

“Yes, but I’m not moving out anytime soon,” as she will be commuting to and from school.

Does the thought of college scare you or are you ready for the new adventure?

“I’m prepared to go, I feel like I have been. The only thing is having to find my classes.”

Jaden Lu

Jaden Lu, Urbana High School Senior

Have you committed to a college yet? If so, which one?

Lu plans on attending Polk State College in Florida as it is the closest one to his new home in Florida.

Are you prepared for the upcoming changes such as leaving your family and being on your own?

Lu does not feel very ready as he absolutely hates change. He gets  “so emotionally attached to things,” which makes it very difficult for him to say goodbye. He has to leave his “family in Maryland to go to Florida,” which frightens him as he has anxiety.

Does the thought of college scare you or are you ready for the new adventure?

“I don’t really know how to feel about college. There won’t be dorms, so I don’t have to worry about that because I’ll be living with my parents, and they’re perfectly fine with that. But I’m up for the (mental) challenge if that means I can broaden my horizons and meet new people.”

     The prospect of college may appear daunting, but in reality, it’s simply a new adventure awaiting your embrace. Life, after all, is a series of changes, each offering opportunities for growth and self-discovery. 

     While the unknown may seem intimidating, take solace in the knowledge that countless others have navigated this path before you, paving the way for your own journey. 

     Also remember that progress is made one day at a time, one breath at a time, and one step at a time. Embrace each challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow, and soon you’ll find yourself thriving in the vibrant tapestry of college life. 

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Arya Mahajan, Reporter
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