Alumni panels speak to juniors

Zoe Goor

A panel of alumni spoke to juniors about the college process during Junior Seminar in Rugby Auditorium, Ahmanson Lecture Hall and the Chalmers Lounge Jan. 9. Split up by dean group, each cohort heard from alumni who are current college students.

Upper School Dean Nia Kilgore, who organized the event, said that the event aimed to provide juniors with guidance from former students as they begin the college process.

“The goal is to expose juniors to insights and advice and pitfalls, all from alumni who are currently in college,” Kilgore said. “We explicitly put out feelers to current college freshmen and sophomores because their experience is still fresh rom applying to college.”

Kilgore said the panel was valuable since students could hear from current college students, as opposed to just receiving advice from parents and deans.

“[Students’] dean tells [them] to do something or suggest something, [and] it’s like your mom or dad or grandma telling you what to do,” Kilgore said. “But when someone who’s only 19 or 20 is saying it, it lands differently. It just seems believable, especially when the alums are being so earnest. They’re not being paid to say something: it’s real.”

Upper School Dean Adam Howard ’93 said he thought the panel encouraged students to look at colleges less superficially.

“I think a lot of our students [can] look very two dimensionally at colleges, in terms of what a school is by name [and] by reputation,” Howard said. “This was an eclectic group of kids going to a variety of different schools that were both small and large, urban and rural, and [they] talked about their experience to kind of put a face and a third dimension to what [college is] like.”

Elizabeth Johnstone ’24 said that she found the event to be especially informative because the speakers were alumni.

“I think hearing specifically from Harvard-Westlake students changed the way I think about college because they had insight about the specific Harvard-Westlake experience in terms of the classes we take and how that translates to college, for example, or our schedules versus their new college schedules,” Johnstone said.

Kilgore said that alumni were able to share insights about the importance of finding the right fit when applying to college.

“[An alumnus] openly said to the kids that the school she enrolled in was her safety school, and that she was not happy about going because she was disappointed that she didn’t get into certain colleges,” Kilgore said. “And she owned the fact that the crux of the whole problem for her was that she didn’t apply to the right colleges. And that’s only something she knows now looking back.”