SPARTA, NJ – Several Sparta High School alumni returned to their alma mater on Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  The alumni came, dressed in school colors, to address the current senior class about college.

The 22 alumni were divided into two panels, each addressing half of the senior class.  They answered questions submitted by the students, read by guidance counselors.  The event took place in the lecture halls at the back of the auditorium.

Many of the questions were predictable but none the less important to the seniors. 

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Q: What is the most important thing to look for when choosing a college?

A: Make sure they offer your major, the type of people on campus (do they exercise, work hard, have fun…) “When you visit make sure you can see yourself there,” make sure there are things you like to do in the area (such as skiing), job placement after graduation

By a show of hands, all of the alumni had visited the school before committing to attend.

Q: How did you know which school to go to?

A: Based on your values, follow your heart if you can, “It’s not a big deal if you have to switch,” and you “just kinda know.”

Q: What makes it the right school for you?

A: Size (mentioned by several alumni), “far enough away from home but close enough to get home,” “It’s a different environment than Sparta.”

Q: How did you choose your major?

A: choose something you are interested in, “I knew I was interested because of classes I took in high school”

Q: Did Sparta High School prepare you for college?

A: “Work hard while you are here,” DECA helped for business and marketing majors, you have to reach out to get help at college, save all of your high school projects, “Lab reports for STEM classes are a good preparation for college.  A lot of my peers never had to write lab reports,” “college is harder than high school”

Q: How did you adjust to college:

A: Freshmen year can be a tough transition, no one is holding your hand, pay attention to the syllabus when the professor hands it out at the beginning of the semester, it is trial and error, get into a routine,

Q: What is the biggest difference between high school and college?

A: class size, “teachers don’t care about you in a huge lecture class” “professors are really responsive in a smaller school, easily accessible”

Q: What was the most important thing you brought with you? *(This question was singled out as the best question by the seniors after the event was over)

A: fan, Keurig, shower shoe, mattress topper (most popular answer), umbrella, modem, printer, iron, speakers, tv, vacuum, vitamins- have good health habits,

Q: What is the most important thing to know about being a freshman:

A: know yourself- know your interests, stay focused, get involved in clubs, sports and activities it will help you find friends, get organizes, prioritize, GO TO CLASS (emphasis included), get a group of friends, don’t prejudge how it is going to be

Q: How are college classes different from high school classes?

A: the time- they are longer and more focuses, don’t meet every day, class size, really have to get your work done outside of class, you are responsible for the syllabus- no one reminds you of deadlines or test dates, you have to go to class and get your work done, it is up to you to pursue your grade, talk with professors, sit in the front of a big lecture class so you can stay focused and the professor gets to know you, “you’re paying a lot of money to go to school so go to class,” school size matters

Q: Roommates?

A: some freshmen were assigned, others had matching services, others chose from facebook groups, it’s okay if it doesn’t work out, they don’t have to be your best friend, just try to get along while you are in your room, you can always find other spaces outside of the room to hangout, make an agreement/rules, “just be civil”

Q: Sports, Clubs, Activities?
A: go to the activity fair, not hard to start a new club, don’t overwhelm yourself, there are academic activities that are good for your profession and hobby oriented that are good to get friends and have fun, and service activities, it’s good to balance academic and social activities, find clubs that support your career,

Q: Greek life?

A: There are social and business frats, have an open mind – its not just about partying, it can be a good way to meet people,

Q: Study abroad?

A: Look at the program early because there are course requirements that have to be considered, can be a good way to get international experience

Q: Favorite thing about college?

A: a lot of freedom, great opportunities, scheduling can be flexible to suit your preferences, so may people to meet, living on campus is an entire community of people all focused on the same thing, an entire community of friends, take the classes you want to take, club sports- at least try it, a lot of opportunities – take advantage of them,

Q: Most important thing to consider when selecting school?

A: Relax-you’re going to be okay, don’t do what you think other people want you to do-do what you think is best for you because you like it, first two weeks are tough- give it a chance,

Q: How does the food schedule work?

A: get a routine to make sure you eat, some have meal plans that offer money for on and off campus dining, pace yourself.

There were two military academy students and an ROTC student on the panel.  The ROTC student Jeremy Dericks explained it is different to be in a military academy where you are living in a military environment all the time. As an ROTC student, “I am a student first and ROTC is something I do in addition to that. Everything else I do is like anyone else on campus.”  He noted he plays hockey and has time for other things too.

After the question and answer period ended they all went to the cafeteria for brunch and to continue the conversation. 

“It was very helpful,” a senior said.  That sentiment was echoed by many others. 

“I’m glad to hear them say it works out,” another said.

“It’s good to hear roommates are not a big problem either,” a senior said.

“Yes, it’s comforting to see everyone is okay,” a senior said.

“The best question was to hear what things they brought,” a senior said.  “That was really helpful.”