On Monday, January 6 the Leesville PTSA had a general meeting. Following this general meeting was a “college panel”: five Leesville alumni who are current college students answering questions about college. “One of the many functions our PTSA serves is making sure our students are best prepared for their future,” said Ian Solomon, principal. The PTSA put on this event for the benefit of all students looking for first-hand information about college.
Only ten Leesville students attended the event, so here is a rundown of what attendees discussed for everyone who missed.
Orientation and Registering for Classes
Everyone on the panel attended their school’s orientation. “It’s really important at first to get your feet on the ground,” said Loren Wait, a sophomore at UNC Greensboro. They all agreed that the easiest way to learn your way around was to attend orientation.
“At my school, registering your classes depended on your major, so I had to map out my classes before I could apply to my major,” said Francisco Morales, a junior at Berklee College of Music. Even though not everyone has to do that, he highly recommends it. “It helps you organize your path to graduation.”
A popular question from parents attending the meeting was about dorms and if they were co-ed. “My dorms were co-ed. As far as my college there were four different dorms that are all scattered around the city because we didn’t really have a traditional campus,” said Morales. He noted that his experience with dorms was different than most because his college is in the center of a large city and therefore doesn’t have a connected campus.
“Meredith is an all-female school so there are no co-ed dorms,” said Raynor Dail, a sophomore at Meredith College. “I’m also in an all-female housing situation since I’m in a sorority, but a huge difference between that and a dorm is that I have my own bathroom,” said Nicki Martin, sophomore at Appalachian State.
When asked if they had any roommate horror stories, the whole panel starting laughing and nodding.
“My roommate and I disagreed on just about everything you can disagree on. We lived in the same room and wouldn’t talk for weeks at a time,” said Wait. She contemplated moving out but ended up finding a community of friends on her floor that made staying worth it.
“I had two roommates. One was really really cool and one was named Trashcan. He was in a metal band and I would wake up to screamo music every day,” said Morales. At first, he was not a fan of his roommate. Looking back now, he says it made for some funny stories and ultimately made his college experience interesting.
A debate on if it is better to pick your roommate or get randomly assigned ensued.
“I would recommend finding your roommate rather than going in random because living with someone in such a small space is hard,” said Ashley Dickerson, junior at NC State University.
Dail disagreed. “I choose my roommate and we were friends outside of school. It sucked. I loved her and we are still friends outside of class, but living with her was harder than I thought,” said Dail. She brought up the fact that being friends with someone is different than having to live with them 24/7. Habits you didn’t know they had can drive you crazy.
One lesson to learn: textbooks are expensive, don’t spend your money on them unless you have to. “I wasted a bunch of money on books. I bought them all before my classes started and that was a huge mistake,” said Wait. Even if something is in the syllabus, you may get to class and your professor may say “Oh, we don’t use that but I’m required to put it on the syllabus” or they may give you a free PDF version later on.
“I’d say to borrow books when you can,” said Martin. For example, if you have a friend taking a course a semester before you, borrow their textbook once they finish.
There are a few things the panel said they hadn’t thought of needing that became a huge problem.
“A mattress topper. Like the thick mattress toppers made from memory foam. The mattresses are terrible,” said Wait. She noted that at first, you think you’ll be fine, but as the year drags on your sleep gets worse.
“A shower caddy. Especially since you’re sharing a bathroom with so many people it’s good to have everything in one place,” said Dickerson. “Having your toiletries in one place will help you not accidentally leave behind your toothpaste.”
One last necessary item: a long charger cord. “I bought a ten-foot charger which is really useful because at Meredith every charger is anywhere that isn’t close to your bed,” said Dail. With a long charger, you don’t have to worry about finding a plug near a desk, bed, or chair.
For the Parents
A few parents wanted to know what they could do to help their students succeed in college.
Letting your kid spend the night at a college they’re interested in seemed to be the biggest help for Martin. “I spent the weekend at my friend’s dorm at App. My parents said ‘go see her and decide if you like it’,” said Martin. Going onto campus without her parents helped her see a new side of college. “It felt like I could have more or a realistic taste of what living at App. would be like.”
“My parents gave me trust so I knew I could call them if something bad happened which really helped,” said Wait. Having enough confidence to know that if she needed to call home her parents wouldn’t freak out or be angry made her more comfortable in her new environment. “I felt like I could try new things while still having a safety net to fall back on.”
Teaching your kids practical skills is also a must. “I had never done my own laundry before I left the house. I called my mom the first time I did laundry and turned all my whites pink,” said Dickerson. Being supported in learning life skills before she was on her own would have helped her avoid some bumps on her road to college.
The PTSA has planned another event similar to this one in April. It’s a college panel, but this time it’s geared towards the parents of students. The events are free to all students and their families, and anyone can join the PTSA.