It was their first winter break back from college, and a handful of recent Pendleton High School graduates were ready to share their newfound wisdom.
Sitting in front of a group of high school students that were their peers a little more than six months ago, the first-year college students explained the challenge of living independently for the first time, including making time to sleep, eat and maintain a schedule.
Avery Madril of Western Washington University said he was nervous to meet his roommate for the first time, someone whose name he had only known for two weeks before he moved into the dorms. He eventually learned that they have much in common.
Hailey Kendrick, a first-year student at Oregon State University, said her roommate’s snoring was prevalent enough that she contemplated shoving and kicking her.
“Obviously, I didn’t because we’re still friends,” she said, adding that she’s able to sleep now with the aid of ear plugs and fans.
Blue Mountain Community College student Emily Griffin only lives a few blocks away from the college’s Pendleton campus and doesn’t have to worry about living with people she doesn’t know, although she admitted it was a fun idea.
Griffin encouraged her former peers to join their student governments at their future schools. Besides a way to get involved, Griffin said members of student government can earn money that can help toward tuition.
Daysha Denight highlighted the University of Oregon’s first-year interest groups, an optional program that groups 20 first-year students into three courses connected by an overarching theme. Denight’s group was called “Twelve Bars of Freedom” that explored the connections between the justice system and American blues music.
“I feel like I know everything about American justice,” she said, smiling. “I don’t. But I feel smarter, and that’s what matters.”
Multiple panelists warned the audience against getting complacent with student academics, especially if they failed to seek out help.
“I feel like high school gives you a false idea of retakes,” said Haley Bradley, an Eastern Oregon University student.
Bradley and several other panelists said their are no do-overs for failed exams, and one failed test could mean the difference between passing and failing a class.
Unlike the panelists, Ryan Lacey, a second-year student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, has been at college for more than a few quarters or a single semester. He is part of the East Oregonian’s ongoing “Promise & Potential” series following eight local graduates from the Class of 2016.
Lacey’s advice echoed the panel’s in some ways. He suggested a gap year for anyone that needs time to learn how to manage their time independently.
“How you do in college is largely dependent on how well you can manage yourself when no one else is watching,” he wrote in a text message.
Lacey wrote that it only gets harder after Year 1, and if a student is starting to struggle with their introductory courses, it might require refocusing their major.
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