Alumni advice to seniors

As May rolls around, many students are feeling the “senior slump,” including non-seniors. While the race to the end of the year begins for underclassmen, many seniors have an even bigger priority: college. On May 23, seniors will enter Centennial’s doors for the last time, and when the final bell rings, the monumental chapter of their lives will end as another begins.

It is completely normal to be nervous about college, as it is a drastic change from high school, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Every year, roughly 300 Centennial seniors leave the nest, and while it seems scary, Centennial alumni are here to assure you that college isn’t that bad.

The new social atmosphere is often the most intimidating aspect of college. Caitlyn Daproza, a 2022 Centennial graduate, began her freshman year at Rochester Institute of Technology last fall. Although living in a completely different place surrounded by completely different people can be intimidating at first, Daproza reminded herself that inserting herself into social settings was the best way to quickly adjust to the new way of life. She emphasizes the fact that you should never be afraid to put yourself out there because everyone is in the same boat. “Making connections with other people in college is so important because they’ll eventually end up being your really long term friends, and [even] your colleagues,” she asserts. 

Like Daproza, Rena Middleton––a freshman at Towson University––also stresses the importance of putting yourself out there: “There are so many different types of people in college, so find your people.” Joining clubs, meeting a classmate for dinner, or simply starting a conversation are just a few easy ways to get to know new people. 

In terms of career preparation, Ally Palich, a senior at the University of Maryland, shares that her biggest piece of advice is to build connections with your professors. “I have been able to find internships through my old professors and you never know when you might need a reference letter,” Palich explains. One mistake Palich urges incoming freshmen not to repeat was buying all of her textbooks the first week of class. “Definitely wait to see what is required since half the time you can find the textbooks online for free if you really do need them,” Palich recommends.

Centennial is well-known for its competitive nature, so it is safe to say the school does more than enough to prepare you for college academically speaking. Middleton says that she was expecting the college work to be harder than it was. Despite not taking many GT or AP classes throughout her high school career, she still felt prepared for the workload. To her, the hardest and most important part was staying organized. She recommends looking at the syllabus and creating a spreadsheet, keeping some type of agenda, or even getting a whiteboard for your dorm to keep everything in check. 

When you go to college, you’re going to be living on your own for the first time, so it’s easy to forget important items you’ll need to bring with you. On Palich’s list of college dorm necessities, she’s added shower shoes, a mini fridge, and a rug to hide the dorm floor. Middleton also mentions desk organizers, a pillow for your chair (since they’re normally wooden and uncomfortable), a brightness adjustable desk lamp, a vacuum and Swiffer for quick clean up, a microwave-safe dishware, a fan for hot days, and most importantly, a Brita water filter.

Amidst all the hectic planning and nervous anticipation, it’s easy to overlook the positives. Since 2023 is Palich’s senior year, she takes a moment to reminisce on her college experience. For her, the best part of college was the flexibility and freedom. Unlike in high school, you are able to curate your own schedule; instead of sitting in a stuffy building for several hours at a time, you can choose what classes you take and when. As for freedom, living on your own for the first time can be really liberating. Palich has lived in an apartment for the past few years, even occasionally staying there over breaks. “I love my family of course,” Palich says, “but there is nothing like living on your own for the first time.” 

Ultimately, it is important to remember that college is going to take a lot of adjusting. Daproza says that her expectations of college were not at all like the reality of it, but in a good way. You may still have bad days, but don’t lose sight of the big picture; finding new interests, meeting new people, and becoming more independent should be exciting. You’re only in college once, so don’t stress yourself out too much—just enjoy it!


For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan