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Seniors on the College Advising Process 2018

Key seniors were asked to share their reflections, experiences and advice with members of the Junior class as they prepare to embark on the college selection journey.


Bruce Dong

Johns Hopkins University
Molecular & Cellular Biology/Neuroscience, Pre-Med

"Be ready for challenges that may Arise. There will be a lot of things for you to do and for you to write in the COMING months."

Advice from Bruce

What is your intended area of study? Or what classes are you most curious about taking?

I want to focus on molecular & cellular biology or neuroscience while following a pre-med track. I am also excited about exploring psychology, so I am considering pursuing a double major or major/minor.

Over the past year or so, what were the most important things you did to find a college?

Visiting schools helped me narrow down my Early Decision (ED) list to only three schools, and doing an overnight visit further helped me to finalize the list to just Hopkins. Knowing what I want to pursue in my future also greatly helped me decide which schools I wanted to apply to.

Now that you are done, what advice do you have for juniors and their parents as they embark on their college search?

Be ready for any challenges that may arise. There will be a lot of things for you to do and a lot of things for you to write in the coming months. If you feel overwhelmed by the application process, entangled in difficulties, and are ready to give up, just take a break. When you come back, look at the list of things you need to do and conquer them one by one.

How did you make a decision about which college to attend?

I applied ED to Hopkins, so this was easy.

What are some of the most important things to consider in the college search and application process?

Talking with previously graduated students and learning their perspectives on their schools helped me save time in my college search. Chatting with teachers and Laura about where I was in the application process also greatly helped me find my own path in the past few months.

What were you most looking for in a college when you started your search? What ended up being most important as you made your final decision?

Access to research and strong academics were what I was looking for when I started to look at colleges and are still what I value the most right now. I enjoy being challenged, and then overcoming the challenges. I hope four years from now I will be looking at my journey at Hopkins and saying: “Wow, I’ve made it this far, and yet there’s still much more for me to see and explore.”

How has Key influenced you and how will that help you moving forward?

In my heart, I fully believe that Bruce can lose, but he can never give up. This perseverance is the quality that I gained from Key that I will keep and cherish forever.


Megan Filter

Davidson College
Biology/Pre-Med

"It's nice to have a college advisor that gets to know you personally as the college process evolves."

Advice from Megan

What is your intended area of study? Or what classes are you most curious about taking?

I am most interested in biology and pre-med.

Over the past year or so, what were the most important things you did to find a college?

The most important and helpful thing that I did to find a college was to reach out to a teacher that knew me well and ask them to make a list of colleges they thought would suit me.

Now that you are done, what advice do you have for juniors and their parents as they embark on their college search?

Definitely enjoy the experience and time together visiting colleges. While visiting make sure to try and do things off campus and in the town so that you truly get a sense of what it is like. Also, if you can, take advantages of overnights. Overnights are the best way to truly get a glimpse of the the college experience and see if the school is a good fit for you.

How did you make a decision about which college to attend?

I knew that I wanted a school that had a small and friendly community, just like Key. I also wanted a school that would challenge me academically. Davidson offered both of these qualities.

What are some of the most important things to consider in the college search and application process?

It was incredibly helpful to be able to sit down one on one and discuss all of my questions and concerns.

What were you most looking for in a college when you started your search? What ended up being most important as you made your final decision?

When I first started my search, I was looking for a school that was well-known by many with a great reputation. However, in the end, I decided that a small liberal arts school was a better place for me to succeed.

How has Key influenced you and how will that help you moving forward?

Key has shaped me to be an independent thinker. I am now able to voice my own opinions and defend my thoughts confidently. However, Key has also taught me to thoughtfully listen and consider other views as well.

Bea Gruskin

Johns Hopkins University
Music and Humanities

"If something doesn’t work out the way you planned or the way you expected, it will be okay because something else was meant to be!"

Advice from Bea

What is your intended area of study? Or what classes are you most curious about taking?

I am going into college undecided, however I am fairly certain that I will be majoring in the humanities. Some majors that interest me are English, Anthropology, French, and Writing Seminars (a creative writing major unique to Hopkins!) I am also planning to minor in music and take advantage of the many amazing opportunities at Peabody (Johns Hopkins’ music conservatory).

Over the past year or so, what were the most important things you did to find a college?

One of the most important things I did to find a college was research. I visited as many schools as I could, and I talked to current students and Key School alumni at the schools I was considering. I was also a huge fan of the virtual tours on college websites!

Now that you are done, what advice do you have for juniors and their parents as they embark on their college search?

My biggest piece of advice for juniors is to be flexible in the process and to keep an open mind! If something doesn’t work out the way you planned or the way you expected, it will be okay because something else was meant to be! The process can be stressful and intimidating at times, but just remember to step back every once in a while and put things in perspective. When you are completing your application, just be yourself — you learn so much about yourself and your personal goals and values during this entire process. Also, have fun!

How did you make a decision about what college to attend?

I ultimately chose to attend Johns Hopkins University because the prospect of going there really excited me! I could easily envision myself spending the next four years there. The student body is incredibly diverse and friendly, and the programs for what I want to study are amazing. Also, I was really excited about having access to music courses, lessons, and ensembles at the Peabody Conservatory, since music is such a big part of my identity. I also really just loved the campus and the city of Baltimore!

What are some of the most important things to consider in the college search and application process?

The college advising process at Key is great because everyone gets one-on-one support and guidance. Laura is always free and willing to chat! I also felt really knowledgeable and prepared going into the process because of the many college meetings and info sheets that Laura handed out junior year.

What were you most looking for in a college when you started your search? What ended up being most important as you made your final decision?

I started my college search with a few schools in mind and a few “must haves”. I definitely wanted a medium sized school in or near a city. I also wanted a school that placed a big emphasis on the arts, specifically music, so one of the first things I looked at in a school was its music program. While I definitely wanted an academically challenging school, I was also looking to find schools where opportunities weren’t limited to the classroom— I am so excited to participate in clubs, do internships or research, and study abroad, so a vibrant student life outside the classroom was really important to me! While I certainly changed my mind about specific schools during the process, my general criteria for a school did not change significantly. In the end, the most important factor that led to my decision was how I felt when I stepped on campus.

How has Key influenced you and how will that help you moving forward?

Key has prepared me for college and beyond in so many ways. One of the most valuable lessons Key taught me was how to advocate for myself and communicate effectively with my teachers and peers. Key also encouraged me to think creatively and enjoy learning just for the sake of learning.


Lauren Neville

Drexel University
Entertainment and Arts Management/Business

"When I committed and had a feeling of relief and excitement, I knew I had made the right choice."

Advice from Lauren

What is your intended area of study? Or what classes are you most curious about taking?

I am majoring in Entertainment & Arts Management with a minor in Business. I’m very excited for the classes within my major and I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of electives I may choose.

Over the past year or so, what were the most important things you did to find a college?

Being open minded was the most important thing I did to find a college. I trusted the process and I knew I would end up at the right school. I also joined Facebook groups for the colleges I applied to. The ability to see the kind of students I would be around at each potential school was super helpful.

Now that you are done, what advice do you have for juniors and their parents as they embark on their college search?

Be open! Even if you have your heart set on a specific school from the start (like I did), your opinions might change! Talk it out - it’s okay to change what you think. It’s also completely normal not to have that “this is home” feeling as soon as you step onto a campus. So don’t be afraid if you don’t experience the same feelings your friends do!

Parents - Allow your child to change their mind and change it back again. Go with the flow. Try not to limit your child’s options when it comes to applying to schools - have serious discussions when your child receives decisions and you find out which schools are actually an option.

How did you make a decision about what college to attend?

I honestly knew where I was supposed to be by the end of the process. Everything fit perfectly into place: location, major, career opportunities, social life, and cost. When I committed and had a feeling of relief and excitement, I knew I had made the right choice.

What are some of the most important things to consider in the college search and application process?

Having older students to talk to was extremely helpful. As a junior, I had senior friends who offered advice about the college process. My friends from Key who are now sophomores in college were also helpful in the process as they were examples of what my future could be.

What were you most looking for in a college when you started your search? What ended up being most important as you made your final decision?

My “checklist” for college changed a lot throughout the college process. When I first began the college search, I was mostly looking for school spirit and my major of choice at the time. When it came time to make my decision, the most important things were location and my updated major. I wanted a school that was close to home but not too close, and I found the perfect major to study. It was also important that my area of study had strong, dedicated faculty. The research and co-op opportunities were the icing on the cake as far as my major.

How has Key influenced you and how will that help you moving forward?

I am very thankful for my time spent at Key School. I’ve learned valuable skills that will help me both in college and after college. One example is how to be a self-advocate. Key has taught me to voice my ideas and learn from others. Key has felt like a second home and I look forward to finding that same feeling in college.

Julia Young

Pitzer College
Biology and Neuroscience

"On each campus try to find a spot where you you’ll be able to escape to when you need alone time or a break."

Advice from Julia

What is your intended area of study? Or what classes are you most curious about taking?

Biology/Neuroscience/Human Biology and Gender and Women’s Studies.

Over the past year or so, what were the most important things you did to find a college?

Going on tours and information sessions! I chose the geographic area I wanted to be in and went from there.

Now that you are done, what advice do you have for juniors and their parents as they embark on their college search?

Spend a lot of time finding colleges that, statistically, are easier for you to get into and that you LOVE! On each campus try to find a spot where you you’ll be able to escape to when you need alone time or a break.

How did you make a decision about what college to attend?

I chose Pitzer College because the mission aligns perfectly with mine.

What are some of the most important things to consider in the college search and application process?

Get advice on how to fill out the common application.

What were you most looking for in a college when you started your search? What ended up being most important as you made your final decision?

When I started my search I was looking for a place where education came first but where the culture is not too competitive or stressful. These factors, along with the types of people who attend Pitzer, helped me make my decision.

How has Key influenced you and how will that help you moving forward?

For the past fifteen years, the Key School community has encouraged me to ask questions, use my imagination, and make connections between my discoveries. I have learned that respect is a vital component of education. This encompasses respect for teachers who dedicate their lives to education, respect for my peers who grapple with essential questions in unique ways, and respect for differing viewpoints as no two people experience life the same way.

Rayan Zia

Dickinson College
Computer Science/Engineering

"What matters is how you use the education at the school you end up going to."

Advice from Rayan

What is your intended area of study? Or what classes are you most curious about taking?

Engineering or Computer Science

Over the past year or so, what were the most important things you did to find a college?

The most important thing about finding a college is the way you feel at a school; it's like a sixth sense. You can feel when you have found the 'right' school for you. Some schools felt uninviting in terms of what I want to pursue, while others welcomed it. It was also important to find a school that continued with the liberal arts education. I was in 9th grade when I said that I wanted to go to a non-liberal arts college but I can say I've gone back on that statement. The liberal arts education allows you to learn much more and become a more developed and well-balanced individual.

Now that you are done, what advice do you have for juniors and their parents as they embark on their college search?

To the parents: Let your child decide where they want to go, don't make that decision for them. Also, make sure you support your child and let them know that you have their back no matter what. It is a wonderful feeling for your child when they know they have someone to lean on in times of stress.

To the students: Go into the process with an open mind. You may like one school now but another school you may have never considered could become your first choice. You also should not base the selection of your schools by acceptance rate; an acceptance rate is just a number. What matters is how you use the education at the school you end up going to.

How did you make a decision about which college to attend?

I had two ideas of what I wanted in a school. I either wanted a large state school engineering program, or I wanted a relatively small liberal arts college. I ended up choosing the latter because it provided me with best of both worlds: a liberal arts school with a transfer to an engineering school after 3 or 4 years.

What did you find most helpful about the college advising process at Key?

The one on one time. It's nice to have a college advisor that gets to know you personally and as the college process evolves. This relationship allows them to write meaningful college recommendations and they become someone you can visit when coming back to Key. This personalized approach makes the whole process easy.

How has Key influenced you and how will that help you moving forward?

The biggest impact Key has had on my life is to understand how to think critically. One of the biggest pros of a liberal arts education is that you learn how to think from multiple angles. This can be used in any field later on in your life, whether you're an engineer, an environmental scientist, etc.