Happy Columbus Day to my American friends and family. And Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends and family.
During the first five (okay, six) days of class this year, I was able to do something special and meaningful for my seniors. Through Facebook, I sent out a request for anybody that took my class and subsequently graduated high school, and asked if they would be willing to meet with my current seniors over Zoom to answer questions. Depending on how long these alumni were out of high school, I asked them if they would be willing to answer questions about applying to college, what college life is like, and even what to do after you graduate from college.
I have been lucky enough to teach at the same high school for 15 years, and have stayed in touch with many of my former students during that time. As a result, the response to my request was overwhelming! Eighty alumni said they were interested, sixty filled out an information form I sent out, and 48 were able to show up and visit with the seniors.
I was able to schedule two to three alumni at the beginning and end of each class, in order to give seniors different perspectives from different people at different stages of life after high school. I encouraged my current students to ask the same questions to different people so that they could get different answers, and hopefully realize that there is more than one right way to pursue their goals.
Selfishly, I was so happy to see my former students and I took the opportunity to tell them how proud I am of what each of them as accomplished since leaving my class.
In order to improve this experience for next year, I asked my seniors some follow-up questions.
In summary, 92.7% of seniors felt that the experience was helpful to them, 85% of seniors felt that there was an appropriate number of different visitors each class period, 88% of seniors felt that an appropriate amount of class time was devoted to this activity, and 100% of seniors felt that I should continue this tradition next year.
When asked for comments, there were some that made a lot of sense. The most frequently received comment was that I should wait until the second day of class to start the activity, and I should devote the first day of class to explaining the process and allowing seniors some time to think of questions to ask. That is something that I will definitely incorporate into next year’s activity.
When seniors were asked about what they learned, I was pleased by the responses. Seniors understood that they should apply to a college based on how well they feel they will fit in at each campus and happy they will be. They understood that going to college means getting involved and being social. They learned that they can switch majors and transfer to another college if it means they can pursue their personal passions and accomplish their personal goals. In general, they learned that it is up to them to do what they need to do in order for them to achieve individual success according to their own standards.
Overall, I feel very pleased with the outcome of this process. The alumni were very courteous and professional, and the seniors learned a lot and were able to reduce their stress about college.
A sincere thank-you to all of my former students who were able to help this year (pictured below):
Jasmine Morgan, Varshini Suresh, Cameron Frysinger, Celeste Wang, Sarah Sachak, Ady Chaudhari, Ashna Pathan, Rishi Lekkala, Ashwin Chandra, Shibi Riyaj, Siddharth Kumaran, Jenny Baggett, Shivi Sharma, Jess Goode, Colin Ruska, Sahana Ramasamy, Saman Hemani, Hannah Mathew, Erin Jordan, Ethan Janis, Alizeh Rehman, Priya Gupta, Amanda Clark, Bhoomika Kumar, Jerry Gao, Victoria Acuff, Shashi Dongur, Cedric Sinanovic, Danielle Piskor, Elieser Gonzalez, Julie Tan, Maya Garg, Joanne Jung, Kevin Chow, Beatriz Alapatt, Adithya Shastry, Adrian Galvan, Dev Chanana, Michael Sheffield, Murphy Scott, Puja Bhat, John Ibekwe, Akshaj Turebylu, Ronak Indurti, Travis Hinds, Jeanna Carlsson, Neha Ghanta, Erin O’Brien, Luke Farrell, JC Humen, Revant Ranjan, Sat Hardiker, Rohin Balkundi, Justin McCullough, Ryan Izadi, Cassidy Younghans