Last week, a group of Chapin alumnae* currently in college held panel discussions for Classes 11 and 12 to answer questions and ease any worries about the college admissions process and life on campus. These alumnae are pursuing degrees in a wide range of subjects including biology, broadcast journalism, chemical engineering, classics, communications, economics, music, political science and psychology, and are in various stages of their college careers. The Upper School students listened intently as the panelists shared advice from their own college experiences.
“Let the process take you where it takes you,” advised Sophie Jabban, a sophomore at University of Pennsylvania. She suggested that students let go of their expectations about what a “good” school is and visit many different types of campuses. “You’ll get a feeling when you find the right fit.”
Zuyi Wang, a Haverford College sophomore, echoed Sophie’s sentiments, telling the students to take touring seriously. “Be honest with yourself. Go somewhere that you genuinely love!” she added.
Trinity College junior Vanessa Ross explained that as she started her college process she thought she wanted to end up at a big school. “I was trying to replicate NYC outside of NYC,” she shared. In the end, she realized that she would be happier at a smaller school like Chapin, where her teachers would know her by name.
Having a plan during your college search is helpful, but the group explained that things don’t always go the way you think they will. Izzy Alexiades noted that while being deferred by her dream school Brown University was disappointing at the time, it forced her to do more research and get excited about other possibilities. Despite her temporary setback, Izzy did still happily end up at Brown. Sofia D’Angelo, a sophomore at NYU, shared her journey of starting out on an academic track but realizing she should follow her passion for music instead.
For some students, heading straight to college after high school isn’t always the right move. Chapman University freshman Amalie Seyffert was a strong example of this as she described how positive her gap year experience was. “It was the best decision for me. I needed that time and space to decompress after high school.” While most of her Chapin classmates headed to college, Amalie spent a year traveling, working in NYC, and enjoying unstructured free time to explore her interests. “I don’t feel behind at all,” she added. “I came into college with a better idea of what I wanted to do.”
As the room opened up to questions, one current student wondered about the difference between academic work at Chapin and at college.
“In college it’s a lot of managing your time,” one alumna noted. “Especially at a large school, when you’re sitting in a lecture hall with hundreds of other students, you have to take control of your academics.” “You are in total control, which is the scariest part but also the best part,” added Sofia.
Nicole Moeder, a division 1 athlete at Boston College, shared how time consuming being on a college sports team can be, and offered advice on balancing classes with practices and training schedules. “Take your time. Don’t try to cram all of your work into one night,” she said. Some of her suggestions included starting things a few days in advance of when they are due, making time to outline papers, and creating study guides.
Another Chapin student asked for advice on selecting a major.
“Go in with an idea, but also take a bunch of different classes. You’ll get a sense of what sticks,” one alumna responded. “It will come naturally to you the more classes you take, and you can always change your mind.” Another suggested, “If you are undecided, consider attending a liberal arts college where you can explore a wide variety of subjects.”
Other pieces of wisdom offered were to find professors you enjoy and take their classes, to keep connected with your fellow Chapin alumnae, and to utilize the College Guidance office as much as possible.
This morning of open discussion was surely helpful to these Upper School students who are navigating the college admissions process and served as a powerful reminder of what a wonderful resource Chapin’s network of alumnae can be.
*The alumnae panelists were:
Izzy Alexiades, Brown University (junior)
Sofia D’Angelo, New York University (sophomore)
Sophie Jabban, University of Pennsylvania (sophomore)
Nicole Moeder, Boston College (freshman)
Juliana Nam, Cornell University (freshman)
Vanessa Ross, Trinity College (junior)
Amalie Seyffert, Chapman University (freshman)
Zuyi Wang, Haverford College (sophomore)
Browse photos from the discussion below: