SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- A group of Union Catholic alumni returned to their alma mater on Monday morning to present a very informative and engaging College Alumni Panel Discussion to the Union Catholic seniors.

The panel, moderated by 2016 UC graduate Bailey Ramirez, focused on the transition from high school to college, and covered a variety of topics including the stress of the college application process, and dealing with anxiety, homesickness, social life, academic life, time management, and how well UC prepared them for college.

The seven-member panel consisted of Ramirez, now a sophomore at St. Joseph’s University, his sister Chloe Ramirez of St. Joseph’s University (UC Class of 2017), Sophia Tangreti of the University of Maryland (UC Class of 2017), Bishop Williams of Claflin University (Class of 2016), Zack Sluka of Boston College (UC Class of 2017), Alexa Doria of Seton Hall University (UC Class of 2017), and Trevor Mulhall of The College of New Jersey (UC Class of 2017).  

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Doria commutes to Seton Hall, but said that hasn’t prevented her from getting the most out the college experience.  

“Everyone assumes that when you commute to college you miss out on things and don’t get the whole experience,’’ said Doria. “But that’s not true. I go to lots of sporting events and do lots of stuff with friends on campus between and after classes. Some students that commute choose to go right home after classes, but you don’t have to. There is plenty of things to do on campus if you commute, you just have to make the most of all the opportunities you will have.’’

Doria also said not to overthink things and that Union Catholic prepared her well.

“Don’t worry if you don’t have that epiphany moment when you are visiting a campus and don’t immediately feel that you belong there,’’ said Doria. “It doesn’t happen for everyone, but that’s okay. Just trust the process and know that as students at Union Catholic you will all be very prepared for college. And just like when you were freshman here at UC, you will make friends and have the best time of your life in college. As a senior at UC last year, I sat in the same seat as the seniors today and listened to the college students tell their college stories. I told myself that if they could do it, I could do it.’’        

Williams, who attended Nyack College in New York for one year before transferring to Claflin University in South Carolina, said being nervous about college is normal. But he stressed the importance of embracing change.

“I was nervous about the transition to college, and after two semesters I didn’t feel real comfortable at my first school,’’ said Williams. “But I learned not to fear change and took a risk and moved forward and transferred. It’s the best thing I did. At first I was concerned about being that far away from my family and friends, but I made new friends that became like a second family to me. I’m creating my own path now, and I know that God has my back at all times. It’s important to never forget that.’’

Bailey Ramirez said that parties are a big part of the social experience in college, but they aren’t for everyone.     

“Yes, there are parties that lots of students go to on the weekends, but it’s all about being smart and responsible,’’ said Ramirez. “But if that’s not something you are comfortable with doing, there are lots of people that choose not to go to parties and they find other things to do with students who have similar interests. There’s something for everyone in college and you just have to be patient and remember that all freshmen are in the same boat and sometimes it takes a little time to find your niche, but you will find it.’’      

Chloe Ramirez said time management is one of the biggest keys to her adjustment to college life.

“You can’t wait until the night before to get all your work done like you did before college,’’ said Chloe Ramirez. “There were times when I’d have some breakdowns about how much work I had to do, but I just called my mom and texted my friends about it and that calmed me down and I was able to get all my work done. You have plenty of time to do your work and have a good social life, but you have to just be smart about how you manage your time. There is plenty of time to get everything done.’’

Sluka said building a good relationship with professors can be very beneficial.

“Finding out when your professors have office hours and stopping in to talk with them really helped me,’’ said Sluka. “It makes a difference to put a face with your name. That’s an important connection to make.’’

The College Alumni Panel Discussion gave UC’s Class of 2018 plenty to think about and helped ease some of the stress that comes with the transition.

“The biggest thing I learned today was to be patient while you are waiting for decision letters and to be patient with the whole college transition, and getting used to having free time and getting a completely fresh start on a new journey,’’ said UC Student Council President Janessa Mendoza. “For Union Catholic to have this for us was great. It really eased our stress. We walked the same halls with the people that we here today and now they are in college and they have all blossomed, so it gives all of us seniors the same hope for ourselves for when we head to college.’’