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Danielle Grimm SUNY Geneseo

High School: Clarence High School

Major: English and physics

Undergraduates: 5,277

Average class size: 27 students

Campus activities I’m involved in: I am the stage manager for the production of “Anything Goes,” go to Womyn’s Action Coalition meetings (the resident feminist group), and recreationally attend Geneseo Area Gaming Group (GaGG).

How’s the food? Diverse. Variety abounds between foreign, vegan and American food at each dining hall. Until the completion of the Letchworth Dining Hall, the Chow Hound – a food truck introduced in fall 2012 cruises the campus with a customizable selection of sandwiches and house-made soups.

Social life: Considering the sparse nightlife in downtown Geneseo – provided Main Street and its surrounding back roads count as a downtown scene – the ability to create your own entertainment is crucial. While the area may lack an abundance of typical weekend entertainment, the cinema, thrift shops, bookstore, cafés and other independent shops provide a suitable, albeit quieter, substitute.

Pros: The small class sizes allow for opportunities for legitimate relationships with faculty, and the university’s liberal arts curriculum encourages involvement in classes and activities outside of your major. The school actively compensates for the lack of off-campus liveliness with engaging events and meet-ups, which successfully aid in the adaptation into college life. I could go on for ages. My experience with SUNY Geneseo thus far has been nothing but positive.

Cons: Again, the lack of nightlife. Personally, I prefer terrible-shark-movie marathons, potluck dinners and six hours of Super Smash Brothers with my floor mates to going out, but that’s highly dependent on preference.

Advice to high school seniors: First, don’t disregard state schools. Many state schools’ reputations stack up well against those of private institutions, and if you’re looking for a less-competitive atmosphere, consider a public university. Next, perfect time management. If you don’t, prepare for waves of unnecessary stress. Finally, don’t psych yourself up. You’ve made it this far, and that’s an accomplishment in and of itself. Dial back and really enjoy your senior year. You deserve it.

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Emily DeRoo

Ithaca College

High School: Williamsville North High School

College: Ithaca College, Roy H. Park School of Communications

Major: Cinema and photography with a screenwriting concentration

Undergraduates: 6,700

Average class size: The average is about 20-25, but I am in a couple of lectures that have up to 100 students.

Campus activities: There are so many things to do on campus at Ithaca. Some of the clubs I participate in are: Project Generations (a club where you meet with an elderly resident in the community and become a “grandchild” to them); Expecto Liber (a Harry Potter literary analysis club); and Harry Potter Alliance. We also have a fantastic array of guest speakers that have come to campus, including Chad Hurley, the co-founder of YouTube. Dave Franco and Chris Mintz-Plasse came to record a Funny Or Die sketch with members of the School of Communications. There also are a vast amount of performances. I just went to our Theater School’s production “Fires in the Mirror,” which was incredible, and there are always concerts at the Music School.

How’s the food? Pretty decent. It varies from day to day. Obviously, it won’t be as good as the food back in Buffalo (the chicken wings especially), but you make do. My friends and I have been ordering Insomnia Cookies a lot. It’s a place in Ithaca that sells and delivers cookies, milk and ice cream to your dorm until 3 in the morning!

Social life: I have a friend group of about 15-20 people so far that make up my main friend group, but I’ve also met many people through being a music minor and in my other classes. In my friend group, we watch movies projected on a white board for a movie theater effect, sing by the fountains on campus and eat together. It’s so nice to have such a supportive friend group. In the center of this group are my roommates (I have three). Two of them are from New Jersey, and the other is from Rhode Island, but we have all grown really close and get along really well.

Pros: Definitely all of the opportunities I have to connect with people in my field. In the communications school, we have an entire class where we Skype with famous alumni (Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, for example) and get to connect to them through technology. Also, I love all of my classes. Each one has broadened my way of thinking and my perspectives. Coming from an extensive music background, I’ve also been in awe of all the music around campus, and really appreciate everyone’s talents.

Cons: The workload is starting to pick up, so I know I will have to study harder. Other than that, I have nothing to complain about. I love Ithaca, and I am so glad to be here.

Advice to high school seniors: Be creative with your college essay! I was, and ended up getting a scholarship as a result. Reach for that dream school, and things can work out. Ithaca was my top choice when college searching, so you never know what can happen. Wherever you end up will be right for you, but remember that college is what you make of it. If you don’t take advantage of opportunities, you won’t really have the best experience you can get.

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Lee Haggerty

Northeastern University, Boston

High school: Mount Mercy Academy

Major: Physical therapy.

Undergraduates: About 16,000

Average class sizes: I have one seminar that is about 200 people, however most classes are around 30. The ratio decreases to about 17 in upper years.

Campus activities: Free movies in the quads, all Division I home games are free to students, the Museum of Fine Arts is free to all NU students, and there are more than 300 student groups to join. Also, our location in downtown Boston is convenient to places like Fenway Park, the Prudential Center and Symphony Hall. Intramural and club sports also are very popular. I joined three teams with friends for the fall season: sand volleyball, indoor soccer and broomball.

How’s the food? The dining hall food is surprisingly delicious! It’s an all-you-can-eat style with many options every night. Each dining hall has one special item they are known for, such as a make-your-own stir-fry, a sushi bar or an omelet station that is open all day. For lunch, the best places are Rebecca’s, with a huge selection of paninis, or H3, the on-campus food truck that is famous for its mac and cheese.

Social life: While Northeastern is definitely not a party school, it is not difficult to walk to other college campuses to find some. For the most part, people go exploring in downtown Boston or cross the Charles River to go to Cambridge. Making friends is also relatively easy because of our Living Learning Communities for freshmen. Each student selects an LLC to live in for the year, which makes it easier to meet people in your major or who have similar interests.

Pros: Definitely the location and proximity to other colleges, the co-op program (similar to an internship) and the green space. For being an urban campus, Northeastern really surprised me with the green space in the quads and throughout campus.

Cons: No Tim Hortons in sight. Boston is the land of Dunkin’ Donuts (We have four on campus!) and Starbucks. Also, chicken wings are not the same.

Advice to high school seniors: Don’t stress about the essay or your extracurriculars. Yes, they are important, but ultimately you will be the one selecting your college because it works for you. If you don’t get in, you weren’t meant to go there anyway. College is a scary thing, and it may not feel like home right away, but I promise you that if we all can do it, so can you.

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Alissa Roy

Rochester Institute of Technology

High School: Springville-Griffith Institute

Major: Media arts and technology, business

Undergraduates: 15,000

Average class sizes: Classes within my majors have about 30 students, while my one general education class has 160 people, which is crazy to me because that is the size of my graduating class last year.

Campus activities: I am involved in crew, pep band and Handlettering Club, plus I am hoping to get more involved with the Publishing Club. There is always so much going on, that it is sometimes hard to pick and choose what to do. I also go to No Voice Zone (NVZ) every Wednesday. RIT has a large deaf population, and at NVZ you get to learn sign language – it is a cool experience and a fun way to learn a new language without having to cram an extra, stressful class in your day.

How’s the food? The food at the main dining hall is only so-so. It is kind of repetitive and pretty generic as far as meals go (a lot of pizza and pasta). However, our meal options also work at places that serve Starbucks and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, which is pretty awesome.

Social life: There are a lot of people at RIT, so while you might never see the people you met during orientation week again, there are still plenty of clubs and other activities to get involved with where you can make friends and have a grand old time. It may take a little while to find the activities that you like to do, but once you do, it is well worth it.

Pros: There is always a lot going on, you get to begin your major right away and Ben and Jerry’s.

Cons: Bricks. Lots of bricks.

Advice to high school seniors: For the most part, I like college a lot, but there will be days where you are stressed or homesick. Classes are definitely more difficult than high school (although that may be because I skipped a majority of the general education classes with AP credit, so I am in more advanced classes right now). Teachers don’t always get to know who you are, so you have to be more responsible and cannot be afraid to introduce yourself or ask them questions. This is definitely a difficult transition, just be prepared for that, and don’t be afraid to move out of your comfort zone and to try new things. For example, I want to avoid that pesky “freshman-15,” so I joined the crew team. I am very un-athletic, and have never rowed before, and I am a total spaz in general, but it has been so much fun, and I have learned so much in just the couple of months I have been rowing, plus I have made great friends.