By Deborah Pitcairn, Director of College Counseling
As 2022 begins, our current seniors’ minds turn toward the future and where they will go next year. Early acceptances have come in for a number of students in the Class of 2022, and it promises to be a very successful year for college applications. Already we have students accepted into Davidson College, Georgetown University, Belmont University, Savannah College of Art & Design, Providence College, Rollins College, Eckerd College, University of Georgia, University of Missouri, USF and many more. (See full list of College Acceptances Class of 2022 as of January 1.) Several students (25% of our seniors, so far) have the joy and peace of mind knowing that they have already been accepted to their first-choice college. We are so proud of each and every one of them!
Many colleges will not notify students of their acceptance decisions until later this winter or spring, including FSU and UF. It is a very tough college application environment with the number of applications up overall this year by 22%, and that is only through mid-November. Applications at FSU alone topped 62,500 – for 6,000 First-Year seats! We sit on pins and needles with our students as they await their answers!
Alumni Panel Shares Advice
As the gaze of seniors begins to focus on the next step, we brought in an Alumni Panel to speak with them. Traditionally, each January, we ask AATL graduates to come and share their experiences in college and what they have learned with the senior class. This year we had five recent alumni participate:
Kacey Akins ’20 — Purdue (Engineering)
Katie Erin McCormick ’20 — Auburn (Music Education)
Jay Qian ’20 — Georgia Tech (Computer Science)
Vanessa Alexander ’21 — Brown (Neuroscience)
Isabella Yee, ’21 — Florida State (Anthropology)
Each alum impressed us with their confidence, ease at public speaking, and maturity. They told the seniors that, while college, and, particularly the first semester, is tough, they felt prepared for the transition to college from AATL, both academically and socially.
They had great advice and gained wisdom to share with the seniors. Some of their academic advice:
“Go to class. Don’t skip.” “Don’t fall behind.” “Read and know the syllabus. It tells you everything.” They recommended students “go to office hours” and extra-help sessions with TA’s as well as professors. The importance of taking the initiative to get to know your professor and TA and getting help was universally expressed.
Health tips: “Sleep is, like, holy.” “I learned how to take naps.” “Don’t do the all-nighters.” “Wear shower-shoes!”
Balance, connection, personal safety, and mental health were also discussed. These five alumni are involved in numerous co-curricular activities on their campuses, just as the Academy culture pushed them to do in high school. They are in marching band, varsity softball, competitive equestrian club, sororities and fraternities, robotics, intramural athletics, knitting/crocheting club, academic societies (the society of engineering and the anthropology society), and some have jobs.
The alumni spoke of various stress-reducing strategies they have developed. They emphasized the importance of having balance and a network of support in their lives. Making a schedule for yourself that balances fun and time with friends, with good sleep/eating/exercise habits, with work time is key to healthy success in college. As one alum put it, “College is all about figuring out what works best for you.”
Toward the end of the presentation, the adults left the room. Mr. Heller, Mr. Sullivan, Mr. Soler and Mrs. Pitcairn felt very confident leaving our current seniors to talk more openly with these mature, confident, successful 19- and 20-year-old college students.
The Alumni Panel event is one we do each year as part of our College Counseling program. Our seniors were exceptionally attentive and eager to listen to students whom they knew and admired who were Seniors at Academy just a short time ago. In a year or two, members of the Class of ’22 will continue the cycle as they return to campus to talk to a new crop of seniors who will also be well-prepared to embark on their next steps because of the education and experiences they had at Academy at the Lakes.