In about two weeks, new students will arrive at 1160 Great Pond Road to begin the most meaningful educational experience of their lives — just as Brooks School's class of 2021 begins their collegiate years on campuses across the country.
Thanks to 22 fellow Brooks alumni, many of the recent graduates already have a good idea of what life will be like on their new campus, how it compares to what they were familiar with at Brooks and who they can turn to for advice. That's because in the spring — when few were able to tour college campuses per pandemic restrictions — Brooks' college counseling office offered the class of 2021 an opportunity to video chat with Brooks alums at a variety of schools to which they had been accepted or waitlisted. Institutions included:
- Babson College
- Boston College
- Boston University
- Colby College
- College of the Holy Cross
- The George Washington University
- Lehigh University
- Macalester College
- New York University
- Northeastern University
- Providence College
- Saint Anselm College
- Syracuse University
- Trinity College
- Tufts University
- University of Virginia
"Due to COVID, it has been very difficult for so many students in the class of 2021 to visit colleges this year," said Dean of College Counseling Andy Campbell, who called the series of video chats that stretched over the course of two weeks in April "immensely helpful."
"To be able to connect with, and hear from, alumni about their transition from Brooks to their college or university is critical," he explained. "The alums have all been in this position before, and certainly remember and identify with the emotions of making that college choice. Many of them are now set to graduate and move on to the next phase of their young lives, and for current sixth-form students to hear about the collegiate experience in its entirety, is such a huge bonus."
For Ryan Winchester '21 (shown below; center), talking with Julia Moore '17 about attending Northeastern University was a gift, indeed. "Being able to have a conversation with a current Northeastern student was a critical piece of making my college decision," she said. "As someone who never pictured myself in a city for college, it was important for me to have the opportunity to ask someone with direct experience about the Northeastern community. And Julia's experience living in the city, as someone who had also questioned wanting a city school after Brooks, [was so helpful to hear]. The alumni chats gave me the chance to ask the decision-making questions I had and receive unfiltered, direct responses from someone who had been in my shoes just a few years ago."
After his video chat with Allie Iamonaco '17, Tristan Witz '21 was able to finally, happily, make his decision to enroll in the University of Virginia this fall. "I was at a point in my college process where I was deciding between two schools, UVA being one of them, so I attended the alumni video chat to help me form a decision," he said.
Unlike others unable to visit the college they were considering, Witz (shown below, center) had been to UVA and attended information sessions on campus. "But out of everything I did, this talk was the most helpful," he said. "Allie told me about what it is like to be a student in Charlottesville and how it's different from being in North Andover. Also, she told me about the transition from a small boarding school to a large public university."
"Her excitement when talking about her school rubbed off on me, and I instantly knew I wanted to have the same life changing experience she had," he added. "I think this program is super helpful for Brooks students because . . . talking to a student gives a more personal feel, as they can discuss their likes and dislikes, whereas school-sponsored information sessions are almost like a sales pitch, which at times can feel forced."
This year is the second that the alumni office has collaborated with college counseling to connect soon-to-be graduates with alumni at schools that they are considering attending, and hopefully not the last.
"It's really heartwarming to see the willingness to help fellow Brooksians during times like this," said Director of Alumni Programs and Gift Officer Carly Churchill '10. "I could imagine keeping this initiative, or at least parts of it, even as we move on from the pandemic."
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