Each year, recent Drake graduates return to campus to talk about their college application/decision process and how they are adjusting as college students. Here are the notes from the January 2017 Alumni Conversations:

    Alex: Hofstra, Long Island, NY.  Majoring in theatre and film, set and lighting design. Wanted to be near an area he could do things. Didn't want small town. NYC has everything. Visited after being accepted - during April break. Love it, student body is great, accepting. Only 7000 undergrad, good middle ground. Consider other people's opinions, but choose based on what you want and where you want to be.  Don't worry about what other people think about where you go.  This is an experience just for you.

    Antonia - Goucher, Towson, MD.  Not my first choice when applying, but experience with my admissions counselor helped solidify my decision.  He came out here and spoke with me.  Cared about me as a person, my beliefs, etc. Every adult on campus really cares about you as an individual.  1000 people.  Diversity and acceptance and scholarship was really important, also generous scholarship.  Skyped with admissions and financial aid, and my award was adjusted up.  Didn't visit the campus until I moved in.  Perfect fit and I love it. Only thing is the cold weather, and there is some culture shock.

    Julia - UC Berkeley. I never had one perfect school, and that made deciding hard. Chose UCB, as it is great, but easy to transfer out of if I change my mind. Even if one school doesn't speak to, you can go and be happy there. Biggest reservation was the size of school.  Used to smaller learning environment. Best way to deal with big school is join things, dance classes, club volleyball, activist club.  Be part of a smaller school in greater campus. UCB was the only school I didn't visit, because it seemed like a fantasy reach so I didn't want to waste time on it.  Really pick what fits for you, not what other people say. What do you need?  What can you NOT live without?

    Rachel - Scripps, Claremont, CA. Women's college.  Took a gap year and deferred.  Application process was insane, applied to too many schools, had no idea, so took gap year.  I ended up choosing between Kenyon and Scripps (two I applied to on a whim) because of good scholarships.  I found i really like the people and now realize how important that is too many.  Half of my friends are transferring as sophomores.  The biggest factors have been weather and people.  Be careful.  Know yourself and take that into consideration.  Wish I had applied to more women's colleges - but no one talked about them.  So so supportive. No cattiness, so much love and support.  People don't get upset over small things. No guys in the way to complicate your relationship with other girls.  Best of both worlds, part of a consortium.  Can take classes at any of the 5 in the consortium, and take advantage of any major.  4000 students instead of 400.  Taking a science program that speeds up pre-med.

    Olivia - Tufts, Boston, MA.  Wreck applying. Always thought I would go in CA, but put this on my list when on a vacation. Applied EDII January 1st.  Tufts was the one school I really wanted to get in.  Got in February.  Was a traumatic experience, but my gut told me to go and that I would be happy there.  Worth it. Despite being very scary and the fear of leaving home.  Excited when I got there.  Just do it.  I've grown from being on the other side of the country.  The way people think is different and that's cool to see.

    Emma - Gap Year currently - deferred from Boulder.  Always knew I was going to college, applied, visited, but always had gap year in back of my mind. Went to Gap Year Fair, and did it.  South America!  College is on the path, and gap year was making a decision to push out of comfort zone.  Last three months in Ecuador and Bolivia, working and living with host families.  Nicaragua coming up!  You hear that majority are going to college, but this has been really cool.  Great community and connections with other kids doing gap years.  I'll start school with connections in US and I know more about what I want to study and where I see my future. Felt like my choice. More in control. Doesn't feel like what I'm supposed to do, but what I want to do. Really wonderful an a cool option to consider. Easy to figure out. Speaking Spanish, but can't call mom whenever.  Cool choice.

    Jackie - Gonzaga.  Starting, was in denial, loved high school, didn't want change. Did EA anyway. Neighbor Megan is in Gonzaga and told me how great it was. Good spirit, great basketball team.  I love the east coast, but am in Washington state.  Critical to look at - campus life.  At UCs, Greek life is prevalent and many of my friends didn't choose that and are struggling to make friends.  Gonzaga has no Greek Life, so it is more inclusive.  Lifestyle is important.

    Academically Prepared?  AP Lit - you're good.  AP classes prepared me a lot.  APUSH - the feeling of never being finished with work, but I have to eat - that is the feeling in all academics.  Not in school all day, make your own schedule, so that is better.

    Alex has 6-7 classes: staying away from 8 am.  Don't expect that every college will have the same standard of work for every class.  Every class will be different, expectations, etc.

    Goucher and Drake are similar - really involved teachers.  Office Hours - go to them.  Talk to your professors - they want to help you. 

    Find a balance with academics and having fun.  At Cal, it always feels like there is more you could be doing.  You may have to sacrifice all A's to have fun.  Cal has been humbling - at Drake I was highly ranked, but at Cal everyone is there. Everyone is motivated and hard working, but everyone is struggling.  You are not alone in feeling it is challenging.

    Social Adjustments: Keep in touch with the friends you care about, not everyone. Don't let that cut. You off from meeting new people.  Having friends will help you so much - studying, relaxing, having fun.  In courses for my major, I met folks with similar mindset.  The welcome events there help you meet people.  It's hard to leave your family, but they will always be there.  Part of life is to move on and learn how to be by yourself.

    Go out and pretend to be drunk, introduce myself to a lot of people, go to bed early and still be productive the next day.  It works, no one knows you are not drunk.

    I was really scared to leave my parents, but doing pre-orientation program.  Went back five days for a program, met a bunch of kids, we have dinner every Sunday, made the transition almost seamless.  Gave me people to talk to when I first got there.  The backpacking program was awesome and we got really close

    Don't let shallow conversations in the beginning deter you.  You will make friends as time goes by.  I've found so many great people.

    Roommate:  survey and got paired with a random person and it's fine.  You can do either gender at Goucher, but I chose not to pick.  All doubles - not complicated.  Most randomly based on survey, or can get them from message.  50/50 toss up whether you will like them or not.  Really cool online and crazy in person, or lame online and great in person.  If you really hate your roommate, you can get out of it.  See your RA.  Be respectful as a living mate, have respect for your space.

    Most visiting parents for the first time or second now.  UCB only 3 times.  Made a conscious decision to not go home more often, as it was a big adjustment, and I needed time to acclimate.  I'm in a whole other world even only 40 minutes away because I choose not to come home.

    Good number of schools to apply to:  6 or 7, like 8, not too many, look at the financial aid when deciding where to apply, apply to schools close to an airport.