Apex High School alumni and their take on how to handle college
College seems to be this mysterious abyss we wave seniors goodbye to as we never really hear back from them, and we only assume that they are well. The next year comes by, and new seniors wonder what actually happens in college, and this wonder slowly turns into paranoia that blooms from fear of failure and skepticism of their own preparedness. Consequently, questions–grave and trivial–start arising. Does coffee actually play a significant role in day to day college life, or is it a myth perpetuated by Buzzfeed and Reddit? Is drinking culture as ubiquitous as television shows and movies make it out to be? Would using words like “ubiquitous” make me sound like I actually belong in college, or will I have trouble finding friends sitting on my high-horse? Online advice about college only goes so far because it is all hypothetical and abstract since it caters to a wide population of students. We, Apex High School students, know each other the best, so it should be Apex High students that give you advice about high school.
“I would say that the best piece of advice I can give is to learn how to manage and plan your time! In college, there is so much more free time, and it’s on you to figure out how to use it, so finding a balance between your school and social life is the most important skill you can develop. You’ll know almost all of your due dates and exam dates at the beginning of the semester, so get a planner and write in all of your assignments as soon as you know them; that way, there is no surprises later, and you’ll feel more on top of things. -Kaitlyn Long graduated Apex High School in 2016 and will graduate UNC Wilmington in 2020 with a major in Education
“I would say that as the freshman year starts, it is really important to socialize and try to meet people. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself because everyone is in the same position, and they are all looking for friends. Also, take advantage of your campus’s resources, particularly libraries, as the majority of students don’t. Finally, don’t stress too much or let yourself feel overwhelmed. Despite what some people lead you to believe, college is not necessarily more difficult than high school, especially if you consistently study.” –Henry McKeand graduated Apex High School in 2016 and currently is an English major at UNC Chapel Hill.
“It can’t be emphasized enough: get yourself out there and try new things! I went to a huge university where I knew absolutely no one, and it was so difficult to really make myself join new organizations and meet new people, but it was more than worth it! Furthermore, and more importantly, keep on top of your classwork! College flies unbelievably fast, and before you know it, it’ll be finals week (better known as Hell Week). Take the time to stay on top of everything and (truly) study every day.”-David Flowers graduated Apex High School in 2015 and will graduate from the University of South Carolina in 2019 where he is double majoring in English and Secondary Education.
“It’s really important to stay on top of studying, and try to stay ahead as opposed to falling behind. Another good thing to do is get in contact with your professors, ask them questions, and show them that you’re trying. A good relationship with a professor could be the difference you need to bump up your grade. Lastly, get involved with any and every club that sounds remotely interesting. College is hard but awesome, so stay positive and good luck!”-Will Rabb graduated from Apex High School in 2016 and expects to graduate from North Carolina State University in 2020 where he is a Computer Science major.
“Don’t be afraid of failure; it’s going to happen, and it’s not the end of the world; keep moving forward. When you get stressed out, take a break, walk around campus, and remember that we’re not in college forever so enjoy this time while you can, even when it’s busy. This is a time for building relationships, so be real with people! And don’t be afraid of making new friends… the best bonding happens at the weirdest times”-Sydnei Murphy graduated AHS in 2015 and plans to graduate from Duke University in 2019 with a major in Cultural Anthropology and a minor in Marketing and Management Studies.
“My biggest piece of advice for college freshmen is to experience everything you can. You will only do college once, and a lot of things that happen to you will only happen one time. This year, NC State beat Duke at Cameron Indoor, and the entire student body was at at the Bell Tower within five minutes of winning, chanting and screaming while we waited for the team to come back. This is just one example of the many incredible experiences I’ve had this year. Celebrate your team at midnight when you have an 8:30 the next day, pet farm animals during agriculture awareness week, and take classes just for fun–you only get do this thing once!”-Hailey Loftin graduated Apex High School in 2016 and will graduate from NCSU in spring of 2020 where is a Communications major with a concentration in Media
“In college, you need to make as many friends as possible. These are people that will help you grow personally and professionally throughout your college career and beyond. Also, don’t be afraid of getting involved! It can be scary at first, but you will find that the organizations you join in your first year will have a profound impact on your entire experience. From joining a Greek organization to being a member of a socially minded or pre-professional club, you will find that the time you put into these organizations will give you a lifetime’s worth of experiences, fond memories and lasting friendships.”-Justin Perkins is a Pre-Law student at Campbell University. He graduated Apex High School in 2014 and will graduate from Campbell in 2018
“College is an adjustment, and everyone adapts differently, but what will really help with getting used to the change is not challenging yourself too quickly. Plan to have a lighter course load for the first year so that you have more time to spend making friends and joining clubs that you really love, and having a less strenuous schedule will allow you to learn the amount of credit hours work you are comfortable with and how to better manage your time. College is all about balance; you want to make sure you are getting your schoolwork done and doing your best, but you should remember to prioritize your health. College is one of the first big steps in life for most of us, so know that if you are scared, that is okay. You may not think you are ready for college, but you are, and once you get there, you will feel more at home than you ever imagined.”-Kenison Garratt graduated Apex High School in 2016 and plans to graduated UNC Chapel Hill in 2020 where she is a Biology major with a concentration in Quantitative Track (B.S).
“Do’s: Be friendly with your professors! I cannot stress more how helpful it is when you need assistance, and the professor knows who you are and is willing to help you because you are an active student. It is not like high school where teachers know you. The professor gives you a syllabus, and you are to follow it. How much your professor likes you is up to you. Find a purpose. In this stage of life, you will likely have a steadier sense of identity, and the common personal battle for young adults is not understanding how something will aide their futures. As you transition from adolescence to early adulthood, you may still experience changes in passion regarding puberty, self-identity, culture, and beliefs, but you may now face the dilemma of lack of enterprise: not knowing how what you are studying will help you pay rent and feed a family one day. If you find a purpose in your work and major collectively, you will have something to work towards. It does not have to be a major purpose. Someone told me to find my ‘happy place.’ My ‘happy place’ gets me through boring work 100 percent of the time because it gives me a purpose and allows me to set multiple short-term goals. I cannot stress how important it is to be sociable. In college, you will learn that the person who gets the job is the likeable one (as well as most qualified). Therefore, you need to be active on campus. Spending all your time in a dorm during college is a waste of time. Engage in the community to build your resume and learn social skills; they are just as important as academics.
Don’ts: Do not lie to your professors about why you missed class or why an assignment is late. As you become an adult, you will recognize that much like yourself, your professors are smart! They will know when you are or are not being truthful with them. My dad compared full-time work to full-time school; it oftentimes requires forty hours a week. Remember, you are in college because you want to be there.”-Nick Stines graduated Apex High School in 2016 and plans to graduate from UNC Greensboro in 2020 where he is a Social Work major.
“College has been a fun and interesting experience. Go to class even if the teacher doesn’t take attendance. Don’t be afraid to ask people for help. Get involved with something you’re really interested in. Don’t get a girlfriend or boyfriend right away! Make sure to keep a detailed calendar in your phone for work due dates and events . “-John Mitchell graduated Apex High School in 2016 and plans to graduate from Hampton University in 2020 where he is a Pre-Law student and a Political Science major.
“Friendships: In your first year of college, you are going to cycle through many friends and friend groups. Some of these relationships will just fizzle out while others may end with a little bit of drama, but both of these are normal. Make sure to reach out and make connections; if you only socialize with your high school friends and your roommates, you’re gonna miss out on a lot.
Roommates/Suitemates: Many schools require you to fill out a roommate agreement or contract at the beginning of the year, and many people fail to take it seriously. Later on in the year conflicts come up over things like the room temperature, but because it is not in the contract, there is nothing you can do about it. Also, do not be afraid to speak up; communication is key. Being upfront is the best way to minimize conflict. It is okay if you are not best friends; just try your best to remain friendly and at the very least civil.
Getting Involved: Just like high school, there are tons of clubs and organizations you can join. Whether it be intramural sports, student government, Greek life, activist organizations, or a pre-professional based club, there is so much you can do. However, don’t overload yourself; limit yourself to a few clubs.
Parties: The simple fact of the matter is not everyone is partying, drinking, and hooking-up in college. Plenty of people do, but a good amount of people do not, and that is okay. Don’t let people peer pressure you into situation you are uncomfortable with. It’s possible to have fun without drinking, even at parties. If however you do decide to drink, make sure to be safe: never drink on an empty stomach, watch your drink, don’t drink to excess, have trusted people around you, and be aware of your campus’s Help Seeking Protocol.
Free Stuff: College is full of free give-aways, whether it be T-Shirts or Monster Energy Drinks, take advantage of it! You don’t want to download the app they’re promoting, but you still want the pizza? Download the app, get the pizza, and then uninstall the app. That way next week when different people are there you can do it again! Also, download PocketPoints; you earn points for not using your phone while in class/in academic buildings, which you can then use for discounts at restaurants and attractions like DefyGravity.
“Free” Services: While the things above actually are free, there are a lot of things colleges claim to be “free” that you are really paying for. These include things like the University Career Center, Counseling Center, and tutoring services. If you need help or want some guidance, they are there for you.
Overall, college is a really exciting, fun, and sometimes scary place. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. It’s surprising how difficult juggling classes, sleep, meals, exercise, personal hygiene, and a social life can be at first. Just remember to be open to new experiences, but don’t lose who you are. Remember where you can from and look to where you want to be. Oh, and your parents wouldn’t mind a phone call every once in awhile.”-Grace Fendrick graduated Apex High School in 2016 and plans on graduating from UNC Charlotte in 2020 where she is double majoring in Political Science and Marketing
“The #1 thing I can say is get involved. The more people you know and the relationships you make will only help you for your future. Academically, make sure your professor knows who you are, especially in a 300+ person lecture class. Whether that means talking to them after class or going to their office hours, anything for them to associate your face with your name. They will help you if you show them you care.”-Matt Sholtis graduated Apex High School in 2015 and will graduate from UNC Charlotte 2019 with a major in Communications with a minor in Journalism.
“Sign up early, or you get bad professors and the most inconvenient times. Follow the syllabus, and don’t put off work until the end. In English don’t turn stuff in without it being graded by a trusted source; they grade 10x harder. Think about which classes are most difficult, and do not take them at the same time balance the easy with the hard ones.”-Dylan Snyder graduated Apex High School in 2016 and will graduate from Wake Tech Community College next year followed with an education at Eastern Carolina University or Ohio State University.
We are Apex Cougars; we are trained to be amazing. College is a great experience, albeit a little tough, but what great adventure isn’t? With hard work, dedication, and passion, whatever school you go to will be lucky to have you. College doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, it can be the best years of your life if you chose for it to be that way. Thank you Apex High alums for sharing your advice!