King’s Alumni Advise Seniors on College Choices

Every year at King’s, a group of alumni return to the school in January to take part in College Slice, an event in which they share their college experiences with current seniors. As seniors are working through their decision process, it helps them to hear from those that have gone before them in making their college decision.

This year’s panelists included:
Emma Rasmussen (class of 2015): UW, Northwest University – Nursing
Emily Cline (class of 2015): Azusa Pacific University– Marketing
Karl Kleppe (class of 2016): Belmont University– Music Business
Riley O’Niell (class of 2016): Shoreline Community College – Computer Science and Business
Aidan Hays (class of 2016): Cal Poly – Engineering
Audrey Friedline (class of 2016): George Washington University – Leaning toward Political Science

We asked a few panelist why they decided to participate. Aidan Hays and Emily Cline both remembered attending College Slice when they were seniors and how comforting it was to hear others’ experiences. Riley O’Niell wanted to help overcome the stigma that going to community colleges sometimes carries. “Community colleges offer many of the same classes that universities offer for a greatly reduced price and it makes it easier to get into state universities when you’re ready.” he said. Karl Kleppe said, “It just felt like the right thing to do.”

College Counselor Kellie Lewis organized and facilitated the meeting. She collected student questions in advance on a wide variety of topics and also allowed for spontaneous questions from the students. Here are some of the panelists’ responses:

Is a big or small school better and why?

If you like a more personal experience where you can talk with professors and have smaller class sizes, then choose a smaller school. If you’re self-motivated or choose a major like engineering that might need a broader range of resources, a big school might be better. Not a good test taker? Choose a small school where not so much depends on your grades from the big tests. At a big college, you might not have as much access to advisers, so you need to be your own advocate, plan in advance and have a backup plan in case you don’t get the classes you want.

How do you make friends?

Just show up to events. There are many events the first week of school geared toward meeting other freshmen. Ask what the first week looks like and what events are available. Bake cookies and host a game night. Some colleges, like Azusa, have mentor groups, so you have friends right away.

How important is it to visit a college before you make your choice?

All agreed that it is very important.

Is it difficult not to party on your campus?

There are a lot of people on campus. The answer depends on who you choose to surround yourself with. It’s important to choose your friend groups based on who you want to be.

What is something that surprised you about college?

The amount of free time you have. It’s so different from King’s where all of your time is structured. You really need to think about what to do with that time. People are so friendly.

How do you choose roommates?

When you don’t set it up yourself and allow the school to choose randomly, you might have some interesting experiences. One panelist had a quiet roommate with a strong Tennessee accent who kept to himself and went home all the time. Another had a roommate who brought different guys home all the time. It can be better if you find someone on your own, but experiences varied. You might need to have some challenging conversations, but having a roommate helps you learn how to live with people and work through your differences.

Whether your college is Christian or secular, what is your faith experience on campus?

Two panelists were surprised by the number of Christians you meet randomly, even on a non-Christian campus. It was easy to get involved in Christian groups and churches. Some Christian schools are a mix of Christian and secular. Even on Christian campuses, you can be involved or choose not to be.

What has it been like being away from your parents? Have any of you been lonely or homesick?

You find out more about who you are. Some said parents become more like friends. You learn how to be alone with yourself. Friendships are different, especially at first. At King’s, my friendships went back years. At college, I’d only known my friends for a few weeks. It takes time to build new relationships. When you see your high school friends’ posts on social media, they all look like they are doing great, but you need to remember that you’re all experiencing the same things, some loneliness, but a lot of great new experiences, too.

How is your academic work load now compared to King’s?

At first, it seems deceptively easier. You have less class time, but more work outside of class, so your academic load is actually about the same. No one really teaches you how to study. In college, it’s more about critical thinking than in high school. Study groups are really helpful.

Do any of you have jobs at college?

To pay for housing, help with tuition or just have extra spending money, a job can be a great experience. It helps structure your free time in a way that sports and other activities did in high school and it’s another way to make new friends.

What one piece of advice would you give to seniors?

Karl Kleppe: “Don’t forget to put in effort. Just try, even if things seem overwhelming. Put effort into everything, even if it doesn’t seem that important in the moment.”

Audrey Friedline: “Push yourself to go and try new experiences. I was apprehensive about going so far away to college, but now I’m so glad I made that choice. Also, take a look at the community and the range of activities around the campus.”

Emma Rasmussen: “Writing is really important. I recommend using the writing center and seeking help if you need it. It’s a skill you will need for life, no matter what your job is. Also be sure to use professionalism in your emails and in other areas. It will help teachers and others to take you seriously and want to help you.”

Aidan Hays: “Networking is important and can help in a lot of areas.”

Riley O’Niell: “Don’t forget to do the stuff you want to do. Don’t just make your decisions on what other people think you should do.”

Emily Cline: “When you go to college and suddenly don’t have your same support base, you’ll find out how deep your roots are and what you’re rooted in. Are your roots deep or will you fall down? Remember who you are and really think about and decide who you want to be in advance. Then live into that.”