EDISON--Seven recent graduates from The Wardlaw+Hartridge School in Edison participated in a virtual panel discussion on Zoom and answered questions about the college process and their transition from high school on Young Alumni College Day. Separate discussions with W+H juniors and seniors were moderated by Chris Teare, Director of College Counseling, and Sarah Honan, Associate Director of College Counseling.

This year's panel included current college freshmen Sydney Johnson of Piscataway (Princeton), Logan D’Amore of Scotch Plains (Emory), Arun Lakshman of Westfield (Georgetown), Judy Minnium of Scotch Plains (Tulane) and Wilson Huang of Plainfield (Babson), junior Lauren Kisare of Bridgewater (Amherst) and senior Manasvinee Mayil Vahanan of Edison (Maryland).

Panelists were asked about how they made their college decisions, things they love about the schools they are currently attending, what they would change about their institutions if they had the power and money to do so, and what facts about the college admission process they wish they knew as high school students.

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Other topics of discussion included the transition from high school to college, selecting majors and minors for fields of study, extracurricular activities, financial aid, interviewing tips, campus life and pandemic restrictions. The W+H alumni panelists agreed that most students will have that “gut feeling” about which college or university setting best fits their needs. 

“As cliché as it sounds, you get a gut feeling,” Logan said. “Meet and talk to as many people as you can who go to the schools.”

“Have conversations with people and see how they feel about the school,” Manasvinee added. “You’ll get a vibe for the school and really feel like you fit there.”

The panelists also agreed that the heavy workload in college will differ from what they encountered in high school, not always in terms of total volume but in how larger assignments are spread throughout a semester.  They emphasized the importance of staying organized and working ahead. 

Although the pandemic has limited social interaction and canceled many extracurricular activities, colleges and universities continue to provide outlets beyond the realm of academics. These myriad options provide countless opportunities for students to explore new passions.

“Throw yourself into new experiences,” Arun said. “You will eventually find something you like.”

Most of this year’s W+H panelists have been studying remotely during the pandemic. Logan and Judy feel fortunate to have spent their first semesters on their respective campuses in Atlanta and New Orleans.

“Tulane really put safety first and they are super strict,” Judy said. “They’ve kept the whole community safe. We’ve been on campus and able to attend some classes.”

The Wardlaw+Hartridge School (1295 Inman Ave., N. Edison) is Central Jersey’s premier PreK-12 independent school. The campus is located near the Scotch Plains border and just five miles from downtown Westfield. It is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational day school that prepares students to lead and succeed in a world of global interconnection. Wardlaw+Hartridge provides an educational atmosphere characterized by academic challenge, support for individual excellence, diversity, and a familial sense of community. To take a virtual tour of the school, visit www.whschool.org/admission/take-a-virtual-tour.