What Getting Into College is Like For Westchester Students

Nine county freshmen share insights from their getting-into-college experiences.


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Photography by Stefan Radtke

Jessica Gordon 

White Plains High School  → Manhattanville College
Majors: Early Childhood and Childhood Education, English

What can parents do to better aid their children through the college-application process?
Not have their heads over the students’ shoulders so much; let them do most of the process independently. Also, parents should try not to force their opinions upon their children or make them apply somewhere. A parent may be happy with the facilities and academics of a college, but their child may not.

Did your high school fail you in any way, in terms of preparing for college?
It sounds strange for a student to be wishing that there was more homework in high school, but I feel as if writing longer essays more often would have helped me prepare for the essays I have to write in college.

 

Daniela Valencia

New Rochelle High School → The College of New Rochelle
Major: Biology

How were your parents most helpful with the college-admissions process?
They made sure I gave [the important documents] to the right people and handed them in on time. If we had any issues, they knew whom to call to ask for help, which was a big relief. 

How were they least helpful (even if well-meaning)?
They didn’t see how they were stressing me out! Every day they would mention something regarding the admissions process and its paperwork. 

What did your high school do best to prepare you for college?
The class I think helped the most was my Speech and Communications class, because it was treated like a college class, and it taught me how to speak publicly.

 

“Don’t procrastinate. I know ‘senioritis’ is going to hit, so if you work on the essay ahead of time, it will make it a little less stressful, so you can enjoy senior year and create memories.”

—Angilee Sewkarran

 

Jaden​ ​Robinson

Ossining​ ​High​ ​School → ​Westchester​ ​Community​ ​College
Major:​ ​Film

What​ ​​did​ ​you​ ​do​​ ​during​ ​your​ ​high​ ​school​ ​career​ ​to​ ​prepare​ ​yourself​ ​to​ ​be​ ​a​ ​competitive candidate​ ​for​ ​college​ ​admission?​ ​ ​
I​ ​established​ ​a​ ​strict​ ​routine​ ​of​ ​completing​ ​tasks​ ​and​ ​assignments​ ​on time​ ​and​ ​as​ ​soon​ ​as​ ​possible.​ ​I​ ​would​ ​stay​ ​at​ ​my​ ​school​ ​until​ ​9 ​p.m.​ ​or​ ​closing.​​ ​In​ ​doing​ ​so,​ ​I developed​ ​strong​ ​and​ ​positive​ ​relationships​ ​with​ ​many​ ​teachers​ ​and​ ​faculty.​ They​ ​were​ ​all​ ​positive role​ ​models​ ​and​ ​have​ ​helped​ ​me​ ​make​ ​a​ ​difference​ ​in​ ​my​ ​academic​ ​career,​ ​my​ ​community,​ ​and​ ​in​ ​my life.

What did your high school do best to prepare you for college?
My​ ​high​ ​school​ ​offered​ ​many​ ​SUNY/AP courses,​ which​ ​gave​ ​me​ ​an​ ​idea​ ​about​ ​what​ ​college​ ​work​ ​would be​ ​like.​​ ​But​ ​most​ ​importantly,​ ​the teachers and faculty​ ​made​ ​an​ ​immense​ ​impact​ ​on​ ​my​ ​development​ ​and​ ​drive,​ ​because​ ​the​ ​wisdom​ ​​they​ ​shared​ ​inspired​ ​me​ ​to​ ​follow​ ​my​ ​goals​ ​and​ ​dreams.

 

Angilee Sewkarran

Mount Vernon High School → Pace University
Major: Business Marketing and Management

What was the most difficult aspect of the college-admissions process?
Having to narrow down what topic I wanted to write my essay on. There is so much I wanted to convey, but I only had a 650-word count. You wouldn’t believe how many drafts I went through!

What’s your best advice for high school seniors who are about to go through the process?
Don’t procrastinate. I know “senioritis” is going to hit, so if you work on the essay ahead of time, it will make it a little less stressful, so you can enjoy senior year and create memories.

What did your high school do best to prepare you for college?
Offering Advanced Placement courses and the Syracuse University Project Advance allowed me to have an insight into the college curriculum.

 

Edward Maffia

New Rochelle High School → Iona College
Major: Mass Communications-Broadcast Media

Did you feel pressure to be a well-rounded student in order to get into college?
I didn’t feel pressured as much as encouraged. Teachers at my school emphasized that a student who got straight A's would have a better chance of getting into the college of their choice than someone with B's, even if the B student was more involved than the A student.

What did your high school do best to prepare you for college?
I was able to talk to my guidance counselor about questions whenever I wanted. In addition, my teachers were very helpful in terms of writing recommendation letters and for support through the process.

 

Emily Czerwinski

Peekskill High School → Purchase College
Major: Arts Management

What did your high school do best to prepare you for college?
The fact that I took AP classes is why I have been successful so far. Although my high school tried, the regular classes I took didn’t properly prepare me for a college workload or college expectations.

Did your high school fail you in any way, in terms of preparing for college?

If I hadn’t taken advantage of all the opportunities given to me, I wouldn’t have been prepared at all. My school wasn’t big on hand-holding, so if I was less ambitious and more willing to fail, I wouldn’t have been as prepared as I was.

 

“I was able to talk to my guidance counselor about questions whenever I wanted. In addition, my teachers were very helpful in terms of writing recommendation letters and for support through the process.”

—Edward Maffia

 

Nicole Meyers

Thornton-Donovan School (New Rochelle) → Manhattanville College
Majors: Business Management, Sports Studies

What was the biggest mistake you made during the process?
Not enjoying it as much as I should have. Everybody is nervous and stressed out. As long as you do your best and get things done in a timely manner, things will fall into place. 

What did your high school do best to prepare you for college?
I had a very diverse curriculum and took amazing classes with incredible faculty members who challenged me to do my best.

 

Oscar Garcia

Lakeland High School (Shrub Oak) → Purchase College
Major: Literature

What role (if any) did your parents/family play in the college-admissions process?
It was my sister who guided me, set deadlines for me, revised my essay and encouraged me to apply to private colleges. She is a college professor who does admissions, so she knows about the process.

What did your high school do best to prepare you for college?
My high school had certain teachers who were engaging and fair yet gave me a lot of work. I find that college isn’t all that hard, as long as you engage and apply yourself and do the work that is given to you.

Did your high school fail you in any way, in terms of preparing for college?
Regents classes tend to be too easy and give too light a workload. In no way do they prepare you for the collegiate level.

 

Kelli Kinlen

Westlake High School (Thornwood) → Iona College
Majors: Biology, Adolescent Education

What’s your best advice for high school seniors who are about to go through the college-admissions process?
Organize your achievements on paper before sitting down and starting the application process. Also, make sure that you visit the schools you are planning to apply to before making your final decision. You can even make yourself known to the school by emailing the representative and introducing yourself and inquiring about your major/interest.

What did your high school do best to prepare you for college?
My teachers challenged us academically while treating us as adults. They frequently ran their classes in a way that allowed us, their students, to run the class with our questions and ideas. We participated in Socratic seminars where we would have a student-driven discussion.

 

 

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