Brooklyn Jones | Maui High School, Class of 2022What word has the power to invoke both dread and anticipation simultaneously in the hearts of high school students?
Students planning on continuing their education and pursuing a degree in a field of their choice find their senior year almost completely centered around the college application process.
As daunting as the essays and scholarships may seem, however, thinking about the future can be exciting! College is an excellent opportunity for Maui students to broaden their worldview and go to school in an entirely new environment, especially if they want to go to college outside of Hawai‘i. Being on a small island comes with its advantages but implies fewer opportunities for ambitious Maui students.
Numerous high school seniors are taking flight this summer to prospective colleges on the mainland to see what’s beyond the tropical horizon, myself included. A trip to visit family in southern California doubled as an opportunity to scope out campuses that caught my interest. One of my favorites was Pitzer College in Claremont, California. Although I had taken a virtual Pitzer tour, being on campus was an incomparable experience. Not only was the school beautiful and environmentally sustainable but it was easy to tell from our student tour guide how much the Pitzer students loved their school. Growing up on the small, close-knit island of Maui has shown me the importance of community, something I found in Pitzer.
Having a close bond with students and teachers is crucial to me. Depending on the individual, aspects of college life can be prioritized over others and ultimately be the deciding factors. For instance, Carl McNabb from Baldwin High School is looking for a college to suit his academic and athletic aspirations. As a competitive swimmer for Hawai‘i Swim Club, Carl is interested in a college with a swim team to continue doing the sport he enjoys.
And, of course, there’s an app to help him find just that. Carl explains the college swimming recruitment program he uses “is helping [him] a lot with finding great swimming programs and scholarships.” Wittenberg University in Ohio and Florida State University are two schools Carl is excited to tour virtually. The campuses are close to where his family members live and have health science and kinesthesiology majors, perfect for an aspiring physical therapist like himself. “These colleges will help accommodate my future goals,” Carl says.
Location is frequently a big part of a college’s appeal too. “Back when I was five to seven years old, I always had the thought of going to a school on the West Coast to continue my education,” Maui High School senior Renzo James Gaoiran recollects. The difference in lifestyle on the West Coast compared to Hawai‘i has always intrigued him. Not only that but his two interests, nursing and film production, could be further nurtured.
Renzo is planning to visit the University of Washington and the University of Portland later this year. His parents helped him plan part of the trip but Renzo took responsibility for choosing the colleges. While planning, he admitted it was “honestly hard” to find colleges with available tour dates. Renzo also had to consider his busy schedule at Maui High and his family’s workdays.
Now, he is elated to explore the campuses. Until his college tours though, he plans on working through his Common Application profile. Renzo knows he has “a long path ahead” of applications to complete but believes all his hard work will pay off in the end.
Senior year can be notorious for college preparation related anxiety. “I remember looking at a large document that told me about the college application process (it was 100 pages long) and that stressed me out because it seemed I had a lot to do,” Class of 2021 graduate Trevor Tang divulges. This fall, Trevor is attending his first year at the school of Applied Computational Mathematical Science at the University of Washington. One of the secrets to his success was getting a head start on college applications in the summer. “You do not want to begin during the fall since there is a lot of work to do,” Trevor remarks. Balancing schoolwork, extracurricular activities and college applications can be difficult so getting at least one of those out of the way will make for a lower maintenance senior year.
Kyra Ong, a fellow Maui High School senior, took advantage of her summer vacation by touring over ten colleges this past month. Out of them, Claremont McKenna in Claremont, California, was her favorite. Kyra appreciated the school’s friendly environment, saying, “everyone [there] wants to help you succeed.” As well, the Claremont Colleges have a unique system—any student of Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, Scripps, Pomona or Claremont can attend classes at the other campuses if they choose. Their setup seems perfect for making the transition between high school to college as smooth as possible. Kyra admits she felt overwhelmed and extremely nervous about college before embarking on her visits. “Now, I know that wherever I end up is where I am supposed to be,” she concludes.
Once you get into the perfect school for you, University of Portland alumni Taryn Ligot has some advice. “It’s really cliché,” she says “but just stay true to yourself.” Taryn admits she was anxious she wouldn’t make friends or find the right college niche at the beginning of her freshman year. After becoming close with her dorm roommate and opening her shell, she realized she had nothing to worry about. “You don’t want to look back on your four years and realize you wasted it with the wrong people,” Taryn points out.
Additionally, remember plans can change. “Originally, I went in as a nursing major,” Taryn says. She loved being able to take care of people with hands-on care. Life happened, however and she ended up graduating college with a sociology degree. “What interests me about sociology is that it inherently applies to pretty much every aspect of life,” Taryn explains. “It’s a major that makes you think beyond yourself.”
For every high school senior at this point in their lives, there is still some unknown in their future. But seeing what kinds of colleges you are most attracted to will help you develop a sense of what kind of person you are and the type of person you want to be. So, until then, be honest with yourself and what you want—and get started on those essays!
Google® Is Not Everything … is a monthly column authored by high school students. The title of the column emphasizes education is more than just googling a topic. Google® is a registered trademark. This month’s guest columnist is Brooklyn Jones, a Senior at Maui High School. She is an assistant editor in her school’s journalism program, Saber Scribes, and also a member of the Girls Can STEM Club. Brooklyn is in the ACOM Pathway at Maui High, specializing in graphic design. In her free time, she swims for Hawai‘i Swimming Club, bakes and likes to go to the beach. She is the daughter of Melissa Ligot Jones and Darren Jones.