The Student News Site of San Luis Obispo High School




The Student News Site of San Luis Obispo High School



SLOHS Alumni Share Their College Experiences


  As the May 1st deadline for college enrollment approaches, college-bound San Luis Obispo High School seniors are carefully choosing a school to attend for the next four years. Because college visits, tours, and programs for admitted students have been cancelled due to COVID-19, many are left wondering what college will actually be like.

Expressions interviewed three SLOHS alumni currently attending four-year universities to give future college students an inside look at what college is actually like. 

  Expressions: What’s been the most refreshing aspect of your college experience so far, relative to your time in high school?

  Ellie Janette, University of Denver second year:   Being surrounded by people who grew up in incredibly different ways than I did. It’s fascinating to hear so many different stories and being introduced to so many different kinds of people.

  Chloe Carlson, University of Arizona Phoenix first year: Socially, there’s more options for friendships. You can really easily find a group that fits you and has similar interests to you. In high school, sometimes it’s hard to find the right people, but in college it’s almost impossible not to find anyone.  

  Expressions: How does your campus culture compare to the vibes of SLO?

  Hannah Haas, UC Berkeley first year: Way more intense and competitive. It’s more academically focused. Also, people are better prepared to meet people who are the opposite of them. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, I approach conversations with a more open mind than in SLO; in SLO people are generally more alike.

  Carlson: In college, no one cares. I’ve never felt judged by the people around me. I’ve never felt pressured to change what I wear or what I say. I feel free to participate in class–I don’t care as much what people think of me. It’s made me so much more comfortable and less constricted than I did in high school. There aren’t really groups or cliques.

  Expressions: How did the academics of your freshman year of college compare to your junior year of high school in terms of difficulty?

  Haas: I honestly feel like it wasn’t that much more difficult. Junior year was such a big jump from sophomore year that it felt so difficult, but I was more prepared going into my freshman year of college–I felt prepared by high school as a whole. Junior year was the hardest and the year I put in the most effort, which helped me prepare for college. 

  Janette: My freshman year of college wasn’t too hard coursework wise, and I took so many creative classes which made it quite fun. One of my classes first quarter was called “With and Without Nature”, how cool is that?!? But I’m in my sophomore year now, and I’m still taking incredibly cool classes but the workload has increased considerably as I’m in almost entirely major specific classes.

  Carlson: The academics are a pretty abrupt change to how you do schoolwork.  In high school, junior year was hard for me, but college is so much more outside work. I’ve spent so much more time doing notes outside of class, whereas I never took notes outside of class in high school. College is more fast-paced with what you’re doing in class, so you have to do work ahead to be prepared for the in-person lectures. 

  Expressions: What’s one aspect of your college you wish you could change?

  Haas: I would like for it to be easier to meet new people and develop close relationships faster. Berkeley is such a big school and so fast-paced that you could meet someone cool and then never see them again. In a high school with 1500 people you’ll naturally make friendships over the years, but at a school with thousands and thousands of people you have to put effort into the people you want to get to know.   

  Janette: I’ve dealt with social anxiety for much of my life and there have been a lot of opportunities I feel I’ve missed out on as a result (both in high school and college), and I wish I could go back and build some of those connections I’ve missed. I have experienced so many wild things and met amazing people though, just there are some opportunities I regret depriving myself of.

  Carlson: They could give us refunds for what we paid for, like our dining that we’re not using because we’re not at school. We paid a lot of money on housing, I don’t think our refund was enough. 

  Expressions: If you could go back and tell your senior self one piece of advice about the upcoming year, what would you tell them? 

    Janette: The first six weeks of your college experience are going to be miserable, but then you will be SO HAPPY. You did pick a place that was good for you, so hang in there!

  Haas: I would tell myself to be very patient. Freshman year of college is challenging because you’re basically starting everything over. You’re adjusting to a whole new life, which takes persistence and patience. Pursue friendships, try new things, and keep doing things that will bring positive outcomes.

  Carlson: Be patient, persistent, and try your best all the time. Regardless of where you go, you can always come home to SLO. I was not super happy with my choice of college senior year, but when I started to be more open to what was around me, I found new things to appreciate, which helped me be happy with where I am. 

  Carlson’s words resonate with seniors doubting their college will be the perfect fit for them. With patience, open-mindedness, and proactivity, even the most reluctant freshmen can find happiness on their chosen college campus. 

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