By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — Students got an early college lesson last week to help prepare them for what lies ahead once they leave Pinkerton Academy.
The school hosted its annual “College Connections” event, offering juniors and seniors a chance to hear from recent graduates currently attending college. The recent graduates offered advice on things like campus life, dorm living, the application process and financial aid.
A panel of Pinkerton graduates took the Stockbridge Theatre stage to talk about their freshman college experiences so far.
Students were chosen for the panel right before they graduated last year in the hopes they could come back during winter break to help students with their college planning process.
Some are attending four-year schools. Some are majoring in fields like culinary arts at community college.
“This is a great opportunity for the students to get an idea of what college life is like,” Pinkerton guidance staff member John Chappell said. “It’s also an opportunity for students to get another student’s point of view.”
Students are the real experts, Chappell said, when it comes to giving advice to those now thinking about college and what they might want to study.
Miranda Ronan attends Keene State University, studying film. She studied film at Pinkerton for three years and said she was very prepared to leave high school for college life.
“I found it very easy to go into the introductory classes at Keene,” she said. “Pinkerton definitely prepares you.”
Some students applied to many colleges before deciding on their top choice; others applies to only a couple.
“I applied to a few,” Simmons freshman and neuroscience major Bjarna O’Brien said. “It was important to me to have a college strong in my major. I did research on the schools.”
For Ronan, it was also important to find not only a college that fit her love of film studies, but also her desire to dance.
“Keene had both,” she said.
Getting the process moving early is important, students said. Waiting until it’s late in the game can prove difficult and stressful.
“Don’t procrastinate,” O’Brien said. “It’s overwhelming.”
Sorting through all the paperwork for applications and financial aid is something that should be started soon, the panel told students.
Riley McKenchnie attends Villanova University. She said now is the time to take advantage of what Pinkerton has to offer including the teachers, the guidance and all the organizations and groups that can be important when filling out college applications.
“Definitely take advantage of your teachers now,” she said.
O’Brien said she was well prepared for what lies ahead, not only because of Pinkerton’s vast size comparable to many colleges and universities, but also for what the school offered.
“Pinkerton really gave me the feet I needed to stand on my own in college,” she said.