At yesterday’s LIFE (Living with Intent, Focus and Enthusiasm) assembly, seniors had the opportunity to hear from Harker alumni about their college experiences, and what to expect and look forward to once they reach college. Nikhil Panu ’13, a recent graduate of Johns Hopkins University, was joined by three additional alumni who spoke to the students via Skype: Haley Tran ’17, currently at Stanford; Sheridan Tobin ’15, now in her third year at the University of Michigan; and Sean Pan ’14, studying at the University of Washington.
Speaking on the idea of getting into the “college of your dreams,” Panu related the story of how he seemed all set to enter MIT upon graduating from Harker before things fell through. Initially disappointed, he eventually ended up at Johns Hopkins, which he found was very receptive to his dream of playing college basketball. “It was really cool to be wanted,” he said. Furthermore, he later found out that MIT might not have been a great fit for him anyway, saying, “You’ll find your ways to make things work.”
Tobin chose Michigan because it matched up with her desire to find a college that offered opportunities to explore many interests. Pan said he did not consider UW a primary option when searching for colleges, but later found out it was the better fit for his goals.
On the topic of adjusting to college life, Tran said, “A big part of adjusting to college is the scheduling,” noting that college students have more autonomy and choices about how to spend their time, which they may find difficult at first. The lessons students learned at Harker on how to schedule time effectively, she said, could prove very useful to them.
The alumni also shared some of the spontaneous things they’ve done so far during their college years. Panu went on a number of road trips and also started a company called Squadz, which he described as “Airbnb for sports and recreation.” He came up with the idea while on a flight from San Francisco to Baltimore. Before his junior year at UW, Pan went on a road trip that hit Montana, Salt Lake City, Tahoe and the Bay Area.
Seniors also were advised on campus safety practices, including making sure that friends stay aware of one another’s status and whereabouts, using apps such as Uber for transportation, and making use of campus support lines and other resources.
Students in attendance also were encouraged to use college as a way to seek out new interests. Panu mentioned the variety of electives that colleges offer, and Tobin mentioned that her goals for college changed after she had spent time exploring opportunities. “What I thought I wanted to do when I was applying was different from what I did,” she said. “Even if you think you know what you want to do, take things because you think they’re interesting.”
Watch for our feature article, Sophomores Speak: That First Year of College, in the upcoming issue of Harker Magazine. It will arrive in mailboxes in late December.