Countdown to college

| 22 Feb 2012 | 08:22

Back in February we published “pages” from diaries being kept by students at Wallkill High as they navigate their way through the maze of tests, brochures and emotions on the way to college. Here is another installment. Getting ready for college takes a lot of preparation. Weeks, months, even years in advance of selecting a college, high schoolers start thinking about the next, exciting stage of their lives. A group of Wallkill High School juniors, all members of Andrea Lawrence’s journalism class, agreed to let us peek over their shoulders and into their thoughts. Excerpts from their college diaries show just how confusing, fascinating and revealing this journey can be. Amanda Shane — February 10, 2009 I scheduled my classes for senior year last week. It’s so crazy how quickly this year is passing. College is going to be here so soon. Of course I’ve changed my mind once again about college. I’ve decided that i would like to attend Kean University and become a first-grade teacher. My current after-school job involves working with elementary school kids, grades first- through fifth, and I love it! A career is something you love to do and I love working with kids, so what better a job? March 4, 2009 Today was day two of HSPA testing. This test determines whether or not we graduate. Talk about pressure. Next Saturday, March 14, are the SAT’s. I’m so stressed over taking them. I took PSAT’s in the fall so I have an idea of what they’re going to be like but I’m still so nervous. Hopefully I do okay. I need to score an average score in order to take the college comp class next year, which I’m looking forward to. I still haven’t changed my mind about going away to Kean University, that is if I get accepted. Going away would lead me to become a more independent person and stop depending on my mom so much. March 17, 2009 Saturday we took the SAT’s. Talk about stressful! The test wasn’t that hard, just long and tedious. Especially being that it was at 8 a.m. and not to mention on a SATURDAY! I can recall being in eighth-grade thinking the GEPA was a big deal. Overall I think the test went fine; I hopefully scored average. I know I’m going to take it at least once more and I’m dreading it. Prom bids were due! Woo Hoo! Junior prom! How exciting, I can’t wait. Only one prom after this then we’re all off to our futures. Scary, I know. Especially since I’m still not sure where I want to go to college. I know that going away would be great but maybe staying home wouldn’t be so bad? I know I want to be a teacher but picking a school is so hard. I receive a continuous flow of pamphlets and letters and applications from colleges all over the East Coast. All look so inviting and promising. Hopefully over the summer I can take a few road trips and get an idea of the different schools and get a feel for the right one. Olivia DuHaime — April 7, 2009 The day has come, and my first SAT scores are in! Knowing that they’d come today has been in the back of my mind for a few days now. I’ve hit a big milestone in my school career and I am really happy with the results. My scores were strongest in writing with a 680 and weakest in math with a 580. Critical reading was my happy medium at a 600. There was really no surprise for me; I have always done better in English than in math. I took an SAT prep course before school during the weeks before the test for extra help in math. The instructor, Mr. Rogers, taught us methods to handling math problems that seem harder than they really are. He also gave us some basic test-taking tips. I learned that omitting problems when one is truly at a loss for the answer is a much better idea than blindly guessing; advice that I used many times on the math sections. Since I am not a math person, the extra practice helped a lot. This first attempt at the SAT was, for me, a practice round. I wanted to see what the test was like and how to tackle it. I should brush up on some more difficult vocabulary words because there were many I got stuck with. The next time I take the test, in June most likely, I will also try to incorporate references from books that I’ve read throughout high school in my essay, a technique I completely forgot about. My lack of references, however, was not a total failure since I still scored a 9 on my essay out of a scale of 2-12. The fourth marking period has started as well this week. It is the final stretch, the last chance we have as juniors to prove ourselves to potential colleges. There’s a lot to look forward to; a senior pass next year for roaming the halls, and of course, spring break! Nicole Cusick — March 4, 2009 Make Your Check Payable To... I am well aware that college is expensive. I had no idea thinking about going to college is expensive. Recently I registered for the SAT exam. That was about a $40 fee. I plan to take the SAT test at least three times. That is $120 and for each test I take a can receive a breakdown of my score. To receive that it is an extra $12 per test. My parents also just recently paid for all of the AP tests I plan to take, a total of three. Each test is $86, yet luckily lovely Wallkill pays half of the cost. I only had to pay $43 dollars per test, a total of $129. It is inevitable that more charges will come up, but already my college bill is pretty long. I guess the preparing for college experiences are just foreshadowing for the actual college bills in my near future. Hello HSPA testing. For three days this week my fellow juniors and I get to take the HSPA tests. They are statewide tests that must be taken and passed as a graduation requirement. The first day is math and the last two are a combination of all different English requirements. The English part consists of a timed picture prompt, a persuasive essay and reading comprehension. All of the skills that are tested on the exams are basic skills that students of all levels use. It is made so that just about everyone that makes an effort can pass it. The testing will take up the morning of three days this week, and although it will be a pain to take these tests it is a graduation requirement. Also, being one step closer to graduation is always a positive thing. In about a month after we complete taking the test we will find out our scores.