HHS Alumni Reflect on Transition to College

By Grace Van Duyn, ’22

Staff Writer

As I am a senior, I am so happy to be done with my college applications, and I know many of my classmates are too. But now that many of our college applications are submitted, we have the new struggle of waiting to hear back from the schools that we applied to, which turns out to be just as hard as completing the applications themselves. In addition to wondering where I will get accepted, I also have been trying to envision how I would do at the schools where I applied. It can be hard to get a realistic picture of college in your head when people only share the good parts on social media, and schools only share the positive aspects in their brochures. One of the best things that has helped me has been talking to previous Hanover High students about their experiences. I’ve compiled the responses of a few students in hopes that their experiences can help you too.

Tim Sullivan, Northeastern sophomore, HHS class of 2020

Question: Do you feel like HHS prepared you well for college? 

Yes! I think that HHS has some great offerings for classes and is only expanding the opportunities, especially with VHS classes. I would encourage students to use these opportunities to try out different classes in high school. It’s totally normal to head into college not knowing what you want to do but opportunities like this in high school can help you find a direction.

Question: What is the difference in workload compared to high school? 

Although coming to college and having a new workload is definitely challenging, some aspects are similar to how things were set up in high school. One thing that was different for me was that in college you generally have fewer assignments that are worth a large portion of your grade, and this means that it’s really important to be prepared, especially when a test can be something like 30 percent of your grade! Like everything, the workload is an adjustment, but it’s manageable.

Question: Is there anything that you miss about HHS, or any advice that you would give to current seniors? 

“I miss so much about HHS! I wish I could go back, especially before Covid, and just live a quick day in my life because I do miss it. Not to be cringey but seniors, just enjoy it! I know everyone looks forward to graduating and literally counts down the days, but this is such a great year, and you don’t want to rush it.

Question: What types of students do you think do best at Northeastern? 

“I wouldn’t say that there’s one specific type of student that would excel here over another type, but I will say that everyone has a different experience at college. It’s important to reach out to current students to get the general vibe of a school, but definitely remember that everyone’s experience is unique and go with what feels right for you when thinking about where you fit best!”

Rachel Maccarrone, Suffolk University freshman, HHS Class of 2021

Question: Do you feel like HHS prepared you well for college? 

I think high school prepared me to an extent for college. Definitely prepared me socially, but college is different when you get to choose what you want to learn, and this taught me about time management and how much effort I needed to put in. Also, I would say that math was taught really well at HHS, and it prepared me for math in college.

Question: What is the difference in workload compared to high school?

“The course load depends on your major at Suffolk. In high school I felt like I could manage my work more than in college.”

Question: Is there anything that you miss about HHS, or any advice that you would give to current seniors? 

“I miss all of my friends from HHS and the fun moments. In terms of advice for seniors, I would say just make the most of it. Don’t take everything so seriously and focus on yourself.”

Question: What types of students do you think do best at Suffolk? 

“I believe that if you are hardworking in general, then you will do well anywhere. At Suffolk, you have to have a strong work ethic and confidence.”

Shannon Taylor, University of Rhode Island freshman, HHS class of 2021

Question: Do you feel like HHS prepared you well for college?

I would say that college is a lot more about taking notes in class. At HHS I did more in- class assignments, and now at URI I have to do a lot more of my work myself. You get used to it though, and I usually get homework on Monday and most of it is due Friday or Sunday which is helpful. 

Question: What is the difference in workload compared to high school?

I feel like college is a lot of work over longer periods of time which can be overwhelming, but if you have good time management, then you will get your work done on time and can make more of your own schedule than in high school. URI also has such a pretty campus, and whenever you are stressed with work, you can always walk around and enjoy that campus which is something really nice and unique!”

Ben Lee, Merrimack College junior majoring in Business, HHS class of 2019

Question: Do you feel like HHS prepared you well for college?

“I do think HHS prepared me well and gave me tools to succeed in college. I think teachers’ expectations in high school are somewhat skewed; they expect professors to be much less forgiving than they truly are. The first year I was in college, I found my expectations were far off from what college truly was, and that was an adjustment for me”

Question: What is the difference in workload compared to high school?

“I don’t find there to be a tremendous difference in workload. The big difference is in accountability. I have to do my work, they really don’t hunt you down to do it. The professors give you the tools and truly do want you to succeed and they care about you, but if you don’t want to pass the class, they don’t care nearly as much as high school teachers do.”

Question: Is there anything that you miss about HHS, or any advice that you would give to current seniors? 

“I don’t miss high school. I enjoyed it for what it was but I think by the time I left I had grown out of HHS.”

Ainsley Kane, Pace University sophomore majoring in health science/pre-nursing, HHS Class of 2020

Question: Do you feel like HHS prepared you well for college?

“I feel as though HHS helped me open up my shell a lot and learn how to meet new people and make connections. One thing that I expected coming into college was that I would have a tremendous amount of work and that professors wouldn’t be accommodating, which isn’t the case. I lucked out with my school and their priority for their students. I have built many connections with my professors and have been able to succeed even when I fall behind.”

Question: What is the difference in workload compared to high school?

“The workload itself is determined on the degree program, so as a health science major my workload mainly consists of writing research papers and studying rather than actual homework.”

Question: Is there anything that you miss about HHS, or any advice that you would give to current seniors? 

“I think the only thing I really miss about HHS would be all the little moments I shared that I didn’t appreciate enough. One piece of advice I would give is enjoy your time in high school don’t try and grow up too fast.”

Kaitlyn Cox, Elon University sophomore majoring in finance, HHS Class of 2020

Question: Do you feel like HHS prepared you well for college?

My situation is unique in the sense that I was only at HHS for senior year and with the pandemic, that year was actually only a few months. I feel like HHS prepared me for the switch in classes with the pandemic. The asynchronous work senior year helped me prepare to handle that same work in college.”

Question: What is the difference in workload compared to high school?

“I have noticed a significant difference. Now that I’m taking more classes geared towards my major, the workload is significantly increasing and I spend much more time working now than I did in high school.”

Question: Is there anything that you miss about HHS, or any advice that you would give to current seniors? 

“My college experience has been great and I don’t find myself missing high school too much because of that. In high school, I found myself stressing over every little thing (for really no reason) and college taught me that these little things are not important in the grand scheme of things. I wish I enjoyed high school more while it lasted and not stressed out so much.”

Hope Thurston, Salem State University majoring in political science, HHS Class of 2020

Question: Do you feel like HHS prepared you well for college? 

“Hanover prepared me academically definitely; I feel like I already know a lot of what I am taught in several of my courses. I also had a few teachers that influenced my passion for government and politics. In terms of the “real world,” culture shock was something I struggled with because we went to an incredibly wealthy and white high school. I didn’t really feel accepted ever and there are probably a lot of students right now struggling with that. Fortunately, there are very accepting people in the real world and I’ve come to meet them and grow into a better person for myself and others.”

Question: What is the difference in workload compared to high school?

“My workload isn’t too different. It’s a lot more studying and a lot more work that I actually can involve myself in. Professors are understanding and very flexible. They want you to succeed and will do anything to make that happen, as if they are your parents or your close friend. It’s motivating knowing that people really want you to succeed and do well at any cost.

Question: Is there anything that you miss about HHS, or any advice that you would give to current seniors? 

“I miss a few teachers, but I’m very glad that high school is over. Advice to seniors now is, it gets better and college is an amazing place.”

Featured image: Craig Warga | Bloomberg | Getty Images

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