Snow delay and freezing temperatures couldn’t keep our amazing alumni away! Having graduated with the non-cognitive skills of perseverance, optimism, and passion, five Indian Creek alumni visited Indian Creek on Friday, January 5, for our rescheduled Alumni College panel. Students in grades 7-12 gathered in the auditorium for a conversation with these recent alumni about life beyond ICS. The dynamic group, representing a wide variety of schools, majors, interests, and experiences, made the conversation exciting and engaging for Indian Creek students.
The alumni who participated in the college panel included the following Indian Creek graduates: Maia Brown ’17, currently a freshman at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL, is double-majoring in Journalism and Computer Science. Rachael Hughen ’15 is a junior at The George Washington University, majoring in International Affairs with a minor in Conflict Resolution. Rachael also runs for GWU’s Division 1 X-Country team. Holly Huntz ’14 is a senior at Salisbury University, majoring in International Business, with a minor in French. Holly just returned from a semester abroad in Grenoble, France. Andrew Lahowin ’16 is a sophomore at Salisbury with a major in Exercise Science. Elli Vickers ’16 is a sophomore at Gettysburg College, where she is on a Pre-Veterinary track, majoring in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Neuroscience.
The alumni shared their experiences with the college application and decision process, the transition to college, and college life, and then offered advice to Indian Creek students on how to make the most of their high school years in order to prepare for college.
Holly and Ellie shared their experiences in applying to many schools, and making their college choices based on the atmosphere and also scholarship offers. Ellie shared that her experience at Indian Creek showed her that she enjoyed the small, liberal arts atmosphere, and would best thrive in a school where she could develop relationships with the professors. Maia’s experience was different, as she applied early decision to Northwestern – which she describes as “the best decision I ever made!” Had she not been brave enough to put her application out there, she had 14 other schools to which she was planning to apply. The early acceptance took the pressure off, and allowed her to enjoy her senior year. Andrew shared that Salisbury was his only choice, but that a snafu with the ACTs prevented him from being accepted directly into the school. He participated in a bridge program before starting at the main university, which ended up being a great experience for him.
Rachel, who’s main sport at Indian Creek was soccer until she decided to try X-Country her senior year, talked about her experience as a Division 1 X-Country athlete, describing it as “a lifestyle choice.” She explained that students participating in college athletics won’t have the typical college experience, but the benefits are great. She shared that her teammates have become her family, and her coach is a big support in helping her to perform at her highest level.
Maia’s biggest adjustment to college life was being so far away from home. She quickly realized that she needed to create her own community. She also learned how to live in a city, utilizing public transportation and taking advantage of all of the cultural opportunities available to college students. Already, just a few months into her freshman year, she can’t imagine living anywhere else. Rachel shared the experience of getting used to city life. “Give it some time,” she advised. “You will never be bored in college.”
Relationships with both friends and teachers were a characteristic of the ICS experience that all of the alumni cited as helping them to find success in college. As Andrew shared, “At Indian Creek, you basically make friends whether you want to or not. That’s not the case in college. You need to throw yourself out there and make friends. Don’t be afraid to try new things.” He said that his experience at Indian Creek helped him develop the skills to do this. Holly agreed, sharing that her favorite part of Indian Creek was the opportunity to develop relationships with her teachers. She knew this was important, so she found a school where she would be able to continue this.
Maia cautioned the ICS students that it is possible to join too many clubs and activities. “Use moderation,” she advised. Maia also shared that her experience as SGA president at ICS gave her the confidence to become involved with SGA at Northwestern.
Both Rachel and Holly recommended that the ICS students to study abroad if at all possible. Holly just returned from a semester abroad in France, which she described as “The best time of my life.” Rachel just returned from a trip to Havana, Cuba, which stemmed as a result of a summer internship she held with a Cuban organization.
While all of the alumni shared that they felt prepared academically, many cited specific classes as being especially helpful for college preparation. AP classes, especially in your field of interest, came highly recommended. The students also shared the importance of strong writing skills, and unanimously recommended taking AP Language to prepare. Rachel also shared the many ways in which her Senior Thesis experience at Indian Creek has helped her find success at GWU. Not only did it help her to discover the field in which she would eventually major, it also provided her with a solid writing sample to use to apply for scholarships and internships.
Indian Creek students and faculty all enjoyed having these amazing alumni visit and share their experiences and accomplishments. Thank you to Holly, Elli, Andrew, Rachael, and Maia!