The+Graduates%27+Perspective

photo by Julia Poppa

The Graduates’ Perspective

Seven recent NA grads reflect on how the district prepared them for college.

April 16, 2020

Maria Bradley

Maria+Bradley

What school do/did you attend, what do/did you major in, and what year did you graduate NA?

I attended Ohio State University and majored in biology. I graduated from NA in 2014 and from OSU in 2018.

Do you think NA gave you an accurate idea of what college/real life was going to be like? In what ways?

I do think NA gave an accurate idea of what college would be like in the academic sense. In my senior classes, they started expecting more from us like college professors did. As for real life, it was hard to imagine being an adult after college, but NA did what they could to help us set ourselves up for success.

Do you think there was anything that you wish NA had done a better job of preparing you for?

I wish NA offered AP classes when I was a freshman and sophomore in order to get more of a jump start for college, but I think they started doing that now, which is great!

What was your biggest surprise when you got to college?

My biggest surprise in college was having lectures with 200 or more other students at a time. Even though NA was a “big” high school, I never experienced anything like that before college.

How well prepared do you think you were compared to your peers?

I think I was more prepared than my peers in college. During my freshman year, some of my classes felt like a review of my senior year high school classes, while many of my peers were learning the material for the first time.

Do you have any advice for the current students?

My advice is to use every opportunity NA provides to set students up for a successful freshman year, such as AP classes or extracurricular activities. With that knowledge and credit already in place, it makes the other normal stresses of freshman year not seem as daunting.

What do you miss most about NA?

I miss the friendships and community that NA fostered for me. The people at NA made my high school experience a memorable time.

Taylor Heckert

Taylor+Heckert

What school do/did you attend, what do/did you major in, and what year did you graduate NA?

University of Kentucky – Kinesiology and Dance- 2017

Do you think NA gave you an accurate idea of what college/real life was going to be like? In what ways?

Yes, NA gave me the skills to live and thrive on my own. I felt like I was very good at managing my time and had good study habits that I could bring into college.

Do you think there was anything that you wish NA had done a better job of preparing you for?

I think that NA did a good job preparing us. – I was more prepared than my peers. A lot of people that go to UK are from Kentucky and graduate with classes of 50 people. It was not a shock for me to see different people each day and to a rapt to the large class size.

What was your biggest surprise when you got to college?

If there was one thing that I could change about NA is how difficult some of the classes are. A lot of my college classes have been easier than the Honors and AP courses I took in high school. 

How well prepared do you think you were compared to your peers?

My biggest surprise was the extremely large class sizes freshman year. My anatomy class had 600 students in it.- I feel like Na gave me a good idea of what college was going to be like, but I found it easier to transition into college because of the rare homework is much lesson college and exams are usually about 60% of your overall grade. There usually isn’t a bonus or extra points to boost your grade in college.

Do you have any advice for the current students?

My advice to the current students of NA would be to keep pushing through. Shortly all the stress will be worth it. Cherish seeing all of our friends each day.

What do you miss most about NA?

 I miss seeing the same people each day and being a part of the NA dance team. College can feel lonely sometimes because you almost everything on your own. I loved being a part of a team in high school and have gotten very involved through my sorority, various clubs, and honors societies.

Carol Vinsky

Carol+Vinsky

What school do/did you attend, what do/did you major in, and what year did you graduate NA?

Pitt, Bioengineering (maybe Pre-Med), and 2018

Do you think NA gave you an accurate idea of what college/real life was going to be like? In what ways?

Yes, in that it would be a lot harder and more time consuming than high school, but we also still have a ton of resources available to us and college is a lot like high school in that I still get PowerPoint slides/notes sheets for some classes and professors go by their first name

Do you think there was anything that you wish NA had done a better job of preparing you for?

I wish NA had prepared me more for resumes bc they have workshops and stuff at NA but the stuff they tell us at NA everyone at pitt said wasn’t a good way to set up; also resumes are different for different jobs/opportunities so I think giving a one-time “template” isn’t necessarily accurate

What was your biggest surprise when you got to college?

I was most surprised by the amount of material we were expected to know in such short amounts of time and how little we were expected to retain from high school in classes like math and science; like everyone comes from a different high school experience so they have to start out somewhere, but I was sort of surprised by how much we were retaught

How well prepared do you think you were compared to your peers?

Same as above, I felt more prepared for writing and some science, and especially calc bc of BC calc with volpe but I stayed in a stem field so I can’t really comment on history or anything

Do you have any advice for the current students?

My advice is use the resources they have for you and ask questions!! People are there to help you and I didn’t realize how much they want to see you succeed which sounds cliché but it’s true—in college they’re there for you but you have to seek out the help more like ive had to walk across campus before just to get the answer to a question about my major because they don’t check their email frequently

What do you miss most about NA?

I honestly miss musical the most because of the people, and teachers like Allen, Beatty, Volpe, and Long because they really lived teaching and helped me realize I want to continue with STEM (so cheesy, I know)

Brett Heckert

Brett+Heckert

What school do/did you attend, what do/did you major in, and what year did you graduate NA?

I graduated NA in 2018 and now attend Allegheny College as a Business/Econ major and Communications minor.

Do you think NA gave you an accurate idea of what college/real life was going to be like? In what ways?

Yes, NA gives you a good sense of workload and college-level academics through homework and tests.

Do you think there was anything that you wish NA had done a better job of preparing you for?

I would’ve liked to take more classes centered toward my anticipated major rather than take science classes I wasn’t interested in.

What was your biggest surprise when you got to college?

Time-management is something that you need to excel at in college.

How well prepared do you think you were compared to your peers?

I feel like I was a lot more prepared than most.

Do you have any advice for the current students?

AP and college credit classes will help you a lot to get the freshman required classes out of the way.

What do you miss most about NA?

Community and friends.

Olivia Scherrer

Olivia+Scherrer

What school do/did you attend, what do/did you major in, and what year did you graduate NA?

I am a sophomore at Duquesne University, majoring in Early Childhood Education with a certification in PreK-4.  I will go for my Masters in Special Education this fall. I graduated from North Allegheny in 2018. 

Do you think NA gave you an accurate idea of what college/real life was going to be like? In what ways?

North Allegheny did a wonderful job of preparing me for college. The school took pride in its challenging yet engaging curriculum, similarly modeled after college curricula. The expectations set by my teachers matched that of my professors to a certain degree, so I never felt like I was pressured by the workload presented to me.

Do you think there was anything that you wish NA had done a better job of preparing you for?

Academically speaking, North Allegheny prepared me well. The only thing that caught me by surprise was the shift in diversity on my college campus. However, that is not something North Allegheny could control — it is more of a locational and socio-economical situation.

How well prepared do you think you were compared to your peers?

I believe that North Allegheny gave me a boost academically and through numerous opportunities in extra-curricular activities. My knowledge in both my studies and my hobbies allowed me to meet new and interesting people and dive deeper into my intellectual interests.

Do you have any advice for the current students?

My advice is to be as involved as you can be without overworking yourself. Find your interests, stick with them, and take care of yourself. The last thing you need is to be overwhelmed and unable to find some kind of consistency in your hectic teenage life.

What do you miss most about NA?

I miss the teachers who helped me realize who I am and the close community within the building between the staff and the students.

Shannon Huber

Shannon+Huber

What school do/did you attend, what do/did you major in, and what year did you graduate NA?

I graduated from NA in 2019, and now I’m attending Penn State University. I’m majoring in Secondary English Education with a minor in Special Education Studies.

Do you think NA gave you an accurate idea of what college/real life was going to be like? In what ways?

Regarding school work, yes, I do think NA gives you an accurate idea of a college work load. Honestly, college was quite easy to step into after homework and classes at NA.  There were others who didn’t adjust as easily. Any college should be more challenging than high school, obviously, but NA students know how to stay on top of and ahead of school work, so it’s very easy to manage.

Do you think there was anything that you wish NA had done a better job of preparing you for?

This is going to be a little brutal, and honestly stress-provoking, but whoever told us all that you have time to figure out your life and what you want to do in college is a liar. Colleges have a very intense, usually strict four-year plan, and truthfully, wiggle room is minimal. Right off the bat, you are going to be thrown into major prerequisite classes and it will be overwhelming, but try to stay calm about it. Take advantage of your university’s resources to explore options or just

What was your biggest surprise when you got to college?

My biggest surprise was how much free time I actually had. While it definitely depends on your personal workload/major/classes, I think everyone will be surprised by how much extra time they have. If you’re a procrastinator, do not let it go to waste (like I definitely have). Staying ahead of your classes is key — use up all the time you have to stay ahead and take your time on work.

How well prepared do you think you were compared to your peers?

Extremely well prepared. Teachers are definitely not lying when they tell us we are far more prepared than other students. It’s extremely noticeable once you start peer editing papers for friends and in classes.

Do you have any advice for the current students?

If you’re a procrastinator (like me), try to stop that habit now!! Definitely not a cute thing to be doing in college. I would highly suggest investing in a planner. At the beginning of every semester, professors will hand out a syllabus with every single test, big essay, project, or quiz’s due date on it. Having a planner (or some type of calendar) is a convenient way to stay on top of assignments. It’s also really nice to see when big tests from different classes may line up on the same week, so you can start studying ahead of time.

What do you miss most about NA?

Having teachers that know you by name is so nice. Building personal relationships with professors can be challenging at a bigger university, and I miss how easy it was to do so at NA.

Robby Yoho

Robby+Yoho

What school do/did you attend, what do/did you major in, and what year did you graduate NA?

Ohio University, Musical Theatre, graduated NA in 2019,

Do you think NA gave you an accurate idea of what college/real life was going to be like? In what ways?

I’d say so! College work, at least the stuff I have to take, is actually a little easier than NA’s workload. Considering I’m in a performance major, it’s sort of hard to say I do much in the way of academics, outside of English and a little bit of math. As for the performance aspect, NA’s theatre department deserves serious credit.

Do you think there was anything that you wish NA had done a better job of preparing you for?

I think NA could do a better job of inclusion. It’s definitely a geographical thing, I remember a student got called out by the senior citizens for being a person of color portraying Jesus in Spelling Bee, but overall I think there are lots of things that have been utilized recently that could do wonders for the school. I still remember the faces of the kids in my science class sophomore year who joked about the Holocaust every single day, and the kids who were never called out for the hateful words and whatnot that flowed out of their mouths. I think we should just respect each other’s boundaries a bit more.

What was your biggest surprise when you got to college?

The biggest thing that surprised me when I got to college was how much it was this great new place where everybody was everything and nobody cared who you were, just so long as you were a good person. I admit, I knew a lot of fake people at NASH. Admittedly I was pretty fake sometimes. I never want to go back to that now that I’ve come to college.

How well prepared do you think you were compared to your peers?

I mean, some kids definitely lacked that drive when they came in, but now they’re journalism majors or back home looking at other options. It’s a hard field to go into. It looks like it’s all song and dance, but if you don’t work to make that song and dance something worth watching, you’re dead in the water. The work ethic NA gave me, even for the times I refused to use it, is more than some kids get in other places. It’s cool that I ended up there and ended up here. Things just work out really well sometimes.

Do you have any advice for the current students?

I see you’re using that “Be the Kind Kid” motto now. Cool. Love it. But may I make a suggestion? At NA, that doesn’t really work the way you think it might. Yeah, the kind kids get lots of love because they give out lots of love, but I’ve seen some of them get absolutely destroyed because they were “too much” or “too pure.” Just following that motto doesn’t work until college, unfortunately. Kids will be kids. Don’t just be the Kind Kid. Return the favor until the world is filled with Kind Kids. Show love to everyone. I don’t care who they are— gay, straight, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, whatever. Everyone who is willing to do something to make your day brighter, to lighten your spirits or even just to talk to you, ask how your day is going, or maybe just let you know about something cool that happened to them — they deserve all the respect in the world.

What do you miss most about NA?

I miss all of you, of course! In a lot of ways, I wish I could go back and do some things differently. There were people I hurt, situations I handled completely inappropriately. Some of them still hurt me to this day, just realizing that I could ever go that far off the deep end. But coming back and visiting all of you after months away, now that nobody really cares what happened in high school anymore, that gives me faith that one day I can also forget about my own embarrassing stories. And at the same time, it’s just that I miss my friends. I do.

About the Writer
Photo of Maria Cima
Maria Cima, Director of Podcasts

Maria Cima is a senior at NASH and on her third year as a staff writer for the school newspaper. As well as writing for the Uproar, she is also a captain...

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