An alumni sampler
For Christina Brissette, class of 2003, travel provided life experiences that helped fine-tune her educational goals. She attended McGill University in Montreal for a year, studying international development. Attending classes that averaged 300 students, she said she found that "the anonymity was difficult." She decided to take time off at the end of her freshman year.
"The main idea behind that is, I was interested in international development and had done some traveling in the past, and I wanted to see in practice what that was all about," Ms. Brissette said. She went to live and work in Guatemala for three months, and then to India in a study abroad program through the University of Vermont.
Taking a break from school "was the smartest thing I possibly could have done," Ms. Brissette said. "You have to be making decisions that will directly be affecting whether you're happy or unhappy, and that's a huge lesson to learn.
"I didn't know how to do that in my freshman year in college, and I think I'm going to be much more successful down the line because I know how to approach things now." She starts classes at the University of Vermont in Burlington next week.
Sarah Greenberg, class of 2005, said her first choice school, Tufts University, has turned out to be "perfect for me, the right combination of social life and work." Since she lived on the Island for 10 years but not her whole life, she said it was probably easier for her to go away to school than it was for kids who had never lived anywhere else. "I didn't find it hard at all," she said. "Just knowing that there's a world outside the Vineyard helps."
Her parents probably wished she had called them more often during her first semester, she said, since she did not come home until Thanksgiving. Majoring in political science with a minor in media studies, Ms. Greenberg admitted, "I don't know what I'm going to do with that." Her advice to high school seniors as they start college is, "Don't overwhelm yourself. There's so much going on, but don't try to go to every meeting and join every club."
Adam Petkus, class of 2005, provided the forum with his perspective as a student who learned from making the wrong college choice. Thinking he was interested in business, he picked Western New England (WNE) in Springfield, a school he found to be too small, and nothing to do off campus. He also discovered he had no interest in business.
"Sports always took a front seat for me in high school," Mr. Petkus said, although he remembered always wanting to try out for plays. He now has decided he wants to pursue music and acting, and plans to transfer to the University of Vermont. At the forum Mr. Petkus told the high school seniors not to worry about choosing a major, "because you'll figure it out along the way." He said of his decision to attend WNE, "I wouldn't change it, because now I know with more confidence that business is not for me. It was a positive experience."
When Patrick Smadbeck, class of 2005, headed to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), little did he know he would end up rooming with his twin brother, Jamie, who also is majoring in chemical engineering. Both entered a lottery to get a dorm room on a certain floor they wanted. Patrick drew the number one and offered his brother his roommate slot.
Patrick's college experience has proven much different from that of his peers. "MIT has a pass, no-record system," he said. "They don't really take attendance for many of the classes and they don't require homework that much, so you can kind of take it more relaxed and try to just get through your stuff." As Patrick explained, "MIT, back in the day, was really notorious for having some people go crazy." However, he said, "Everything's pretty easy to keep up with, as long as you know people in the class." Patrick plans to return to the Vineyard this summer, but will apply for one of the many student internships available in industries near MIT in the summer of 2007.