HS Insider

College tips from Princeton University

Photo: Princeton University, Office of Communications.

With graduation a month away, seniors are slowly realizing how real college is about to become.

Daniel Pearl Magnet High alumni Ayla Allen is currently attending Princeton University. After growing up in West Hills, Calif., she is accomplishing her dreams in Princeton, N.J. The ivy league student also performs in her university’s ballet academy and is majoring in environmental engineering.

Here are her college tips from Princeton University.

What’s the most difficult thing about studying out of state?

The most difficult thing is being far from home. Because I live on the opposite coast now, it makes coming home for shorter breaks really difficult because it’s kind of weighing the cost of a plane ticket for a three-day visit against the love I have for my family and friends. Honestly though, you get used to being away from home and you find your independence which is priceless.

How do you advise incoming freshmen in any college to make new friends?

When you first get to campus, don’t be shy! Take this wonderful opportunity of everyone being new to everything in college to talk to random people and sit at random tables for meals. Also, go to different freshmen activities and audition for different student groups. When I joined Bodyhype (one of the dance companies), I was instantly enveloped in a fun, loving family. These people have become my best friends, along with random people I talked to on the first day here. Also, when classes start don’t be afraid to talk to people before class starts or after because wonderful connections happen in these little moments.

What should incoming freshmen take advantage of in college?

Take advantage of different events and activities going on around campus. Shop courses you would never get to experience otherwise. Try out all the new things you’ve always wanted to but never could. Also, class scheduling–don’t give yourself an 8:30 a.m. class unless you are a morning person or you have to. This time is about you and what is best for you so make yourself a schedule you can enjoy.

How do you effectively make connections in college career wise?

Take advantage of alumni associations because alumni are always looking to help college graduates. Look into university sponsored internships because those can often lead to job offers from that organization after graduation. Spend time at the Career Services department of your college because they can help you with everything from job sources to resumes. Also, stay tuned for career fairs that happen frequently around campus. Don’t wait for senior year to start making connections and attending events.

Kevin Silverstein and Ayla Allen. Photo: Princeton University Ballet/ Chanyoung Park.

How do you manage to juggle studying, a social life, and ballet?

Well, it’s not the easiest. Being in two student dance groups means a lot of rehearsal time but for dancers this rehearsal time is also a time to socialize so that helps a lot. It’s really about knowing how much you can handle. There are some days all my friends are going out but I choose to stay in and finish whatever needs to get done. Then there are other days that we all go out but a few of us head back earlier than others. Personally, I’ve found it’s about taking the responsibility and initiative to decide what course of action is best for you. What helps is that I’m not the only one with this crazy schedule so we work it out together and manage to have a lot of fun!!

What’s one thing you regret the most your freshman year?

I definitely regret not selecting the P/D/F option for Multivariable Calculus. Basically, this just means instead of getting a letter grade I could have selected to take the course on a pass/fail basis which would have led to a better GPA. Also, not breaking up with my high school boyfriend before coming to college (although you probably didn’t need to know that).

What is one thing you miss about high school?

I miss the little moments in class where someone makes a joke and everyone laughs or when a teacher does something weird and the class responds as a community. I miss the sense of family that develops in a high school class and the certainty of knowing that during lunch you will be with your friends at your chosen hangout spot. I love the spontaneity of college but I do miss the routine of high school sometimes.

What should high school students take advantage of while in high school?

As I mentioned before, the time they have with their peers in a community setting. Also, the accessibility of their teachers. They should really speak to their teachers and take advantage of education in this way because high school teachers are invested in your well-being and your life after high school to a certain degree while professors are not here to invest themselves to 5,000 undergraduates every year–it would be impossible.

What’s your advice to high school seniors since graduation is a month away?

LIVE IT UP!!!!! You may not realize it until later but this is one of the only times you will truly feel like you own the school and can do whatever you want (within reason). Cherish every moment you have with the people in your classes that you wouldn’t be friends with if you weren’t in the same class because those are the people you may never see again but meant a lot to you in high school. Also, really just appreciate the community feel in the classroom because that is something you can’t find in a 200 person lecture.

Photo: Princeton University Ballet/ Chanyoung Park.
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