By Cathy Nabbefeld, Co-Director of College Counseling

As the College Office gears up for one of its busiest times of the year with well over 100 colleges visiting campus in the next two weeks alone, it’s nice to be reminded of our central mission statement:

The Colorado Academy College Office and students work together in an active partnership to maximize student success and to discover accessible options for life beyond CA that best align with each student’s personality, goals, aspirations, and learning style, and which bridge meaningfully from their high school experiences.

There’s no better affirmation of this mission than the voices of last year’s seniors who write us as they settle into their campuses far and wide.  From schools like Juilliard that focus on the arts to large state schools with rousing school spirit like U. Minnesota, from a small liberal arts college like Swarthmore to freshman semester abroad programs at schools like Middlebury, CA students are thriving as they embark on this rite of passage.

AllieAllie Hutt, Julliard, New York City, NY: “So far Juilliard is pretty freaking amazing. The most exciting thing for me has been being surrounded by so many ridiculously talented people. The musicians spend hours upon hours practicing, and the result is beyond breathtaking. I’ve now been brought to tears by opera, drama, and music all on separate occasions.  Living in the city has also been a blast. Getting to ride in the elevator with New York City Ballet dancers every day is just insane.  Overall college is amazing. To be here, and actually studying dance is an incredible privilege. I think no matter where one ends up, in a big city, rural Ohio, a conservatory, or a big university, she is bound to grow and change in ways she never thought possible in very small periods of time. How cool is that?!”

Sarah Sarah Johnson, Tufts U, Boston, MA: “Everything here is exciting! I am constantly surrounded by new people and opportunities to try new things. I started off the year with an amazing trip in the White Mountains with 9 other freshmen and student leaders. We climbed a 6,000 ft peak, which doesn’t compare to a 14er but was still cool. We have been to the city several times already for lunch, visiting other schools, and a concert! We went to an all day music festival Boston Calling. I am also enjoying my classes so far and love my professors.  And I’ve participated in traditions like painting the cannon and going mud-sliding down the ‘prez’ lawn when it rains.”

Anna Anna Dennis, Middlebury College, VT:  “I was in Costa Rica for the last two months taking Spanish classes and living with host families. Now I am in Urubamba, Peru, where I am I installing stoves and water filters in rural homes as part of a ‘healthy homes’ project. I will be here with my new and completely awesome host family for two months and then I will head to Cusco for one month, where I will be volunteering in the low-income preschools. So far my favorite part has been living with the host families and seeing how welcoming and comfortable they are!”

Bailey Bailey Abernathy, U. Minnesota, Twin Cities, MN:  “I’m having a different college experience than most other kids from my graduating class at CA in that I’m at a huge university and I’m doing sports. I love both of those aspects of my college career, but it definitely makes some things a bit tough. Everyone said that I would have a lot of free time in college, and I’ve found that my schedule is just as full as it was in high school!  Also, people always say that you can hide at a big university, and although I have a chemistry lecture of 200 kids, my calculus and Spanish classes only have around 25 students in them and my professors already know my name. One thing that is exciting about being at a huge university is the overwhelming school spirit. At the football games, everyone is dressed in their best maroon and gold, standing on the bleachers, singing the cheers and Minnesota rouser. Seeing so many people come together to support their school is such an amazing thing to be a part of. Overall, my college experience is one sleep-deprived blast of going to class, practice, homework, and making life-long friends. I love it!!”

Meg Meg Bost, Swarthmore College, PA:  “I have basically no free time, but I did want to gush about how amazing Swarthmore has been so far!!  I just had a very difficult academic week, so the first thing that comes to mind about college is that I feel like I’ve come here amazingly well prepared. CA obviously got me ready in terms of factual material covered in classes, but far more importantly, CA got me ready to be a student at college. Even in the first few weeks of classes I’ve felt the benefits of going to a school that’s taught me how to manage my time, engage in academic settings, and (most importantly) feel comfortable asking for help. The scariest part of the transition for me was the fear of feeling lonely/homesick.  I loved how much everyone at CA cared about each other; it was a home away from home where everybody knew you and wanted you to succeed, and I chose Swarthmore with the desire to find another community like that. I knew, going into it, that Swarthmore was a small school with a huge emphasis on community. But what I really didn’t expect was to feel so at home so quickly. The people here are amazing! I’ve been here taking classes for two weeks and I’ve already been invited to a professor’s house for dinner. My hall is very close and we have “family dinner” on Saturdays to catch up with each other. I have a class with six people in it. I’ve participated in dorm “zombie preparedness drills” (which are basically epic nerf gun wars every Friday night from 1-2am). I know the name of at least half of the 100 or so people living in my dorm. Swarthmore is by no means as much of a home as CA is, but what has been very comforting during this crazy transition is the fact that it feels like it has the potential to be. Basically, I’m very, very grateful to CA for getting me so ready for college and I’m even more grateful to all of you guys (especially Mark) who helped me through the process and encouraged me to choose a school for its feel rather than its prestige. I’ve been at Swarthmore for less than three full weeks and it already feels like home; I really can’t imagine a better place for me!!”

Caroline Caroline Nichols, Colgate U., NY: “My first few weeks have been absolutely amazing. I actually got extremely lucky with my housing situation and am living in a five-person suite with three other girls whom I completely adore.  Other than housing, I would like to say that even though teachers talk about how well-prepared you are for the college workload, it completely takes you by surprise, not necessarily because it is extremely difficult, but because time management is so much different in college than it is in high school. You have a lot more reading and a lot more time to get it done, but actually figuring out when to do it, and even how to take good notes, is probably the hardest thing for me. My first weekend, my roommates and I spent nine hours in the library and then an additional two or three in our room just working and we quickly figured out that we just didn’t know how to take notes on our readings in an efficient way (which we quickly remedied). Other than that first hiccup, classes are going great!”

AlexAlex Ramos, U. Washington, Seattle, WA: “College is great. I’m having an awesome time at the UW! I actually haven’t started classes yet, but I’m moved into my fraternity, ΑΣΦ, and I’ve been having a great time hanging with the guys and everything. I actually spent this whole last week cleaning the house and doing pledge activities.”

ElsaElsa van Hall, Occidental College, CA:  “So far I have loved Occidental! We have a mountain behind our school called Mt Fiji and whenever you hike it, you will always find people admiring the view of LA; I love hiking to the top with friends at sunset and hanging out. Today a group of probably 200+ kids and I are trekking to downtown LA for a festival concert! I am absolutely dying in my marine biology class because we get to go on field trips to the tide pools and out on a boat to learn about fisheries; we’re learning about all the marine animals that interest me, and are dissecting squids, sea stars, urchins, etc.”

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