A panel of Class of 2016 alumni answered questions about their experiences after graduation as part of the annual First Year Forum, during D-block, G-block, and F-block May 22 in the Little Theatre.
The panel included Mark Colomba, brothers Benjamin Cole, Geoffrey Cole, Analisa Fazio, Lily Fisher Gomberg, Carly Thayer, and Kayla Tynes, all of whom spoke to a variety of post-graduation options, such as gap years, vocational jobs, and enrollment in college.
School counseling interns Josh Wheeler and Sara Safranek moderated the panel by calling on members of the audience to ask questions or asking pre-made questions from cards during lulls in the conversation.
In response to a question about gap years, many panelists said they were glad they had taken time off.
“I decided to take a gap year because, although I love school, I have a lot of interests outside of it,” said Benjamin Cole. Subsequently, he fed his passion for politics by spending time helping campaigns in New Hampshire and explored his interest in medicine by training to be an Emergency Medical Technician.
Mark Colomba, who spent time working in the restaurant business, added, “I was just trying to figure out if that was what I wanted to do.”
There some debate over the viability of having a job while taking college courses. Tynes contended that her schedule at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design was “insanely intense,” resulting in her having “no free time” and not being able to get a job. However, she added, “I was learning how to budget my time. It’s very different in a new situation to learn how to budget time, money, and energy. I have a lot of friends who work and are able to balance their time.”
Gomberg, who had a job last semester, explained that it not only helped pay for her tuition but was also a “big part of my social life.”
An audience member posed the question of how often the panelists communicated with their parents, to which many responded that they were in contact often.
“For better or worse, going to college means you are away from home,” said Geoffrey Cole. “You have an opportunity for freedom if you want it, but there’s an expectation from parents to communicate. Strike a balance. My mom calls three times a week.”
Benjamin Cole added that his communication with his parents was different than his brother’s because he was not in a single place and visited foreign countries on his gap year: “Communication was my mom really needing to hear me say, ‘I’m still alive.’ I learned how to do that. I’m not really good at that. My advice is to establish a weekly thing.”
For Gomberg, her relationship with her parents has improved since going to college because her conversations with them have gone from brief, stressed out encounters to “substantive” talks. She added, “You’ll figure out what the right balance is for you.”
A large part of the discussion was concentrated on clubs and other extracurricular activities. Panelists disagreed to some extent over how to get involved in clubs. Geoffrey Cole said that clubs can be managed because “you can dictate how involved you are with a club based on your workload. However, he cautioned against joining too many clubs, adding, “Get involved with something you care about” to avoid “stretching yourself out too thin.”
However, Gomberg also advised, “Don’t be afraid to get involved with things you don’t know.”
After discussing many aspects of college life, panelists reflected on their past year, advice they wish they’d given themselves, and what they want to change next year.
Tynes said that next year she wants to “get involved and explore more things,” adding, “I want to utilize what I have access to while I have access to it.”
Benjamin Cole said, “I have mastered nothing. I’ve seen a lot of things I’d like to master, and I have a lot to do. I could be intimidated, but I’ll figure it out.”
In terms of advice for those going through the college application process, Gomberg said, “Chill out. It’s going to be okay. Life will keep going on.”
Thayer added, “Know yourself and believe in whatever you’re most comfortable with. Make your own decisions.”
The block ended with the panelists discussing whether or not North prepared them for their life after high school.
“I would say North did a really good job preparing me,”said Fazio. “Even if you’re not prepared, there are resources on campus to help you.”