Gables Grads Return to Share Their Experience

Patricia Passwaters, Editor in Chief

Who said senior year was the easiest? Whoever it was, they lied. Not only do seniors have to worry about their exams, but they must also worry about all of the applications they must fill out; college applications, financial aid, scholarships, etc. This stress builds up and essentially leads them to believe that as soon as they put on their cap and gown and walk across the stage to receive their diploma, it will all be okay. However, they have no idea what awaits them once high school is over. For this reason, CGHS holds an annual college forum where alumni come to speak to the current seniors about what it’s like to leave home and take their first few steps into adulthood.

This year’s college forum, which took place on December 19, featured 14 alumni that graduated last year. Among the panel participants were: Andy Biondi (Cornell), Totoyana Hill (Spelman), Nabi Ferra (UF), Natalie Shafer (FSU), Andrea Jaime (Georgetown), Jake Mekin (Bentley), Angelo Pis-Dudot (Yale), Ali Stack (Stanford), Sarah Zerdoun (UM), Lorenzo Babboni (Duke), Brooke Nelson (UF), Carson Morris (Franklin & Marshall), Ali Cina (Colorado – Boulder), and Saira Membreno (Scad).

Students who signed up to attend the forum began filling in the auditorium seats at approximately 9:00 a.m. The forum began with the CAP counselor, Mrs. Stack, asking the panel some of the questions she receives on a daily basis about the college application process and continued with questions about college life to help seniors gain an insight on what life after high school is like.

Below are some key tips given by alumni that will help graduating seniors with the transition:

1. Don’t restrict yourself – Saira Membreno

For many students, going away for college will be the first time they are away from home for a long period of time. Different factors begin to weigh in on their decisions. Some of these factors include being too far from the family, missing their parents, etc. For Membreno, choosing a school was a daunting task because she never planned on leaving Miami. However, after getting accepted and receiving the most financial aid from Scad, she decided that her best option was to leave Miami for Georgia. After experiencing what life is like away from home she tells seniors, “Don’t restrict yourself because you’re going to miss your parents. You’ll soon realize you can grow as a person.”

2. No more Cuban food – Jake Mekin 

Before starting college, students are often warned about the “freshman fifteen.” During the forum Lorenzo Babboni admitted to this weight gain and attributed it to a change in his eating habits; he said, “It’s more like a freshman ten.” In college there is no such thing as parents cooking dinner. Rather, you will be faced with a variety of places to eat such as the dining hall, Chipotle, Grill It, Subway, etc. In the first few months of college, students tend to binge eat, taking advantage of their parents not being there and telling them what to eat for dinner. This is what leads to the “freshman fifteen,” or in Babboni’s case, “freshman ten.” No one realizes how much home cooked meals and cuban food is missed until they eat the same thing everyday or step on the scale.

3. Never take a morning class – Natalie Shafer 

Unlike high school, students are  mostly able to choose their own schedule in college. Classes can vary from 2-6 times a week, from morning to night, the combinations are endless, depending on the school and what they offer. According to Shafer, “If you’re not a morning person now, you’re never going to be a morning person.” Therefore, when choosing courses keep in mind your likes and dislikes, and try to think about what schedule will fit you best. Remember, though, how heavy your schedule is really depends on the major you choose.

4. Laundry is difficult – Carson Morris

Many assume that turning 18 signifies adulthood, but they are wrong. Going to college is adulthood. In college you no longer have parents cooking for you, doing your laundry, or running your errands. They are no longer in the room next door when you get sick. They can’t drive you to the hospital or make you soup. One of the hardest parts about going away is managing your academics and social life, while completing your newly acquired daily responsibilities.

5.  Join extracurriculars for your soul, not for your resume – Angelo Pis-Dudot

“In college there is no end goal,” Pis-Dudot said. Students join extra curricular activities to be a part of activities they enjoy and to meet people who share the same interests. Throughout high school, students are trained to be a part of something because it “looks good,” but now it can be more than that.  “College is when you decide what you love,” Babboni said. Although some things aren’t for everyone, like Greek Life, you never know until you try. After all, this is a time in your life where you can experience things you would have never done before, in order to find out who you really are as a person. “I met my best friends in my sorority. I love it because I have an entire family and support system. It makes you feel like you belong somewhere,” Nelson said.

6. Take the roommate agreement seriously – Ali Stack 

If you’re going to a school where none of your other friends are going, don’t be afraid of the random roommate assignments. Colleges do a pretty good job of pairing you up with someone who shares your similar interests. Therefore, it is important to take your roommate agreement seriously. You want to make sure that your roommate agrees to everything you list, and is fully aware of your likes and dislikes. However, Andrea Jaime advises seniors of one thing, “Don’t go into the roommate thing thinking you’re going to be best friends because that’s not always the case.” Just because you sleep in the same area as someone does not mean they want to hang out with you all the time. It’s okay if you and your roommate have a different group of friends. 

7. Have no expectations because they will be crushed – Angelo Pis-Dudot

If you go into college with certain expectations about what the campus is going to be like or the type of people you’re going to meet, among other things, you will be disappointed. Walking on campus for the first time with no expectations will prevent you from feeling disappointed. Having this mindset will also allow you to keep an open mind in regards to what you get involved in, and the type of friends you make.

8. Miami is not the same when your friends are gone – Lorenzo Babboni

Miami is not your home. Home is your friends. Home is your family. Home is your Alma Mater. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to experience a different location and a certain school because of the distance. You will be disappointed in the long run because home isn’t home when everyone else goes off to experience new things and your left behind living the same life you did in high school.

High school is arguably the best years of one’s life. It is the moment where you begin to discover who you are and what you like. In high school, you find out how to distinguish your real friends from your fake friends, and right decisions from wrong decisions. However, college allows you to truly find yourself and gives you the opportunity to discover what your future holds, even if that means being away from your parents.  Therefore, the forum was a grand success; not only did the event offer seniors insight from Gables alumni who are essentially where the seniors will be in a year; but seniors are now able to carry this advice with them when they go through their first few weeks of college. It will make the transition a lot smoother.