College in Real Life: Alumni Advice

Time management, clubs, and activities, as well as office hours, were among the tools suggested by alumni to current FA juniors and seniors during Alumni Networking Day on January 10, 2024. The theme of this year’s panel was “College in Real Life: Triggers, Traps, and Solutions,” and five alumni with expertise or experience in mental health from the Classes of 2007 through 2022 participated in a discussion moderated by School Counselor Jen Chamberlain.

Much of the discussion focused on social connection and the importance of making friends. Parker Cleary ’19, who recently graduated from Skidmore College with a degree in psychology, said, “This may be the first time since 7th grade where you’ve had to intentionally make new friends.”

Assistant Pastor at Cape Cod Church Brittany Feldott ’12 agreed and urged students to be patient with themselves and the process. “You’re exercising different muscles that you haven’t used in many years. Being aware of that can be encouraging because you don’t always find instantaneous connections.” She explained that the people one first encounters at orientation or in the first semester may not be the ones who become lifelong friends, and that is okay.

Justin Campbell ’07, Vice President of Business Development for New England Medical Group and CEO of Limitless Recovery, cautioned the students, “You can change the trajectory of your life by the people you surround yourself with. Find people who will help and influence your life positively. They will help you make choices that make you feel like yourself, that help you do things that you enjoy, and that encourage you.”

The panelists reminded the students that if they feel overwhelmed or pressured into tricky peer situations, there are campus resources available. Jules Buccino ’10, a pediatric dentist who was a residential assistant (RA) in college, said, “RAs are a really good resource because they’re your contemporaries. They go through a lot of training to prepare for the job and can help you find resources and additional help.”

Abigail Neubert ’22, a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh, which is a very big school with over 20,000 students, cautioned that one of the biggest challenges for first years is time management. “I try to keep myself busy because if I get bored, I just feel weird. There’s not going to be a person or teacher who can always hold your hand and walk you through. It is up to you to learn how to manage your time. Utilize campus resources—like writing labs, office hours, and the health center—and use them.”
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