Senior Exit Thoughts

By Jonathan Lam on 06/21/18

Tagged: brain-dump reflection

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Below is a short survey seniors from our school fill out online prior to an in-person interview with their counselor. Some irrelevant questions (i.e., filling out private information) has been omitted.

  1. Identify one of the most influential experiences that you had at Barlow and explain the impact it has had on your future plans.

    I remember Advanced English II as being one of the first moments I ever thought I would really fail. For the first few days in that discussion-oriented seminar of a class, I didn't speak. I couldn't.

    When I approached Mrs. H. for advice, she told me, just be more liberal with your thoughts. Don't be afraid of expressing incomplete thoughts. Or just practice more. And while class remained extremely difficult for me for quite a while, I forced myself to practice on a private blog I created. For months, I forced myself to write creatively, on a short timed-write, and suffered.

    Only months later did I realize that my writing and on-the-spot synthesis skills had improved drastically.

    While I don't believe this changed my future career plans in STEM, it did affect my beliefs on my own ability to learn in stressful / difficult situations outside my comfort zone.

  2. Choose the catagory that most closely describes this experience. Academic Class

  3. How would you describe your growth as a learner during the last four years? Significant growth

  4. Briefly explain your response to question #3

    There's a lot to say, but if I had to put it simply:

    When I was in middle school, there were a lot of things and words I thought I'd only learn far in the future, or perhaps never at all. Very complicated things, like trigonometry or calculus or electromagnetism or titrations. Looking back now, I realize that I've gained not only a working understanding of many of those things and words, but I also am eager to help others on the same path learn those concepts as well.

  5. What has been your greatest personal achievement during your high school years?

    Probably my programming career. It's something that had stayed completely separate from my high school career until sophomore year, until it suddenly collided when I wrote a blog for Advanced English II. I began using programming to model mathematical and chemical phenomena in junior year. This past year, I've written another blog, modeled innumerable mathematical and physical phenomena, and wrote the Safe Rides application to help other people. In short, programming is a tool to create technological solutions. When I applied my learning from school to it, it created wonderful things.

  6. How has your involvement in co-crricular [sic] activities affected your role as a member of the high school community.

    I spent a lot of time bowling and running for sports teams. For bowling, as a leading member all four years, I learned a lot about keeping a team optimistic and meeting deadlines; from running, I learned a lot about hard work and the physical boundaries of a teenager.

    I also joined the Math Mentoring in sophomore year, and competed in the Math Team, the Yale Physics Olympics, and various hackathons throughout my high school career. I would have liked to participate in other academic events, such as the Robotics team and Chess team, but my schedule did not allow it. This forced me to prioritize what I wanted to do, and it forced me to try to spend my time most effectively in each team I participated in by trying my best and trying to do well in competitions.

  7. Do you believe you had the opportunity to be involved in or make connections to authentic real world experiences during your time at Joel Barlow. Yes.

  8. Identify the class or classes in which you were able to engage in this type of experience. Math Science

  9. Has your awareness of the importance of personal integrity grown while a student at Joel Barlow? No.

  10. If so. How?

    While I feel that it is important to be personally morally righteous (a deep belief in my family), unfortunately I have seen plenty of non-personally integrous activities at Barlow, especially in my senior year.

    A lot of this relates to the drug problem and blatantly disregarding school rules, not only breaking rules but inconveniencing other students with bathroom closures and harming their own physical health. I also heard of cheating multiple times. In both cases, I felt like I couldn't do anything, as they were stories told to me and felt distant.

  11. Was there an adult at Barlow or in the community that you connected with in a meaningful way? Explain.

    Unsurprisingly, I had the most meaningful experiences with the adults that I stayed around the most, either from classes or for sports. This included, but was not limited to, my coaches for bowling, cross country, and track, as well as my teachers for various Spanish, Chemistry, and Mathematics courses who I had for over four semesters.

    These connections got to the level that I had no problem divulging personal knowledge, holding long-standing inside jokes, or asking for help for personal reasons. This was especially true when I was away on academic or sports events, during which we spent long periods of time together.

  12. What is your intended major or career path? electrical engineering (major), math (minor)

  13. How would you describe the Student Services Office in terms of helping you with college/post secondary planning? Average

  14. Looking back what is the one thing you wish you had known or understood at the beginning or during the college process.

    There's a lot more than you might expect that is not told to you, e.g., college deadlines and the extent of questions asked on the College Board. I ignored a lot of advice from parents about starting early, because I far underestimated the amount of time necessary to complete all the tasks necessary and write well-written, meaningful essays.

    My story isn't unique, but it makes me regret much now.

  15. Please provide any suggestions or recommendations you may have for the Student Services Office in regards to the college/post secondary planning selection process.

    We had a college-planning session in the career office once, late in the fall/winter of senior year. It would be great if that could be moved to junior year, so that we could have that in junior year instead.

  16. If you are attending college in the Fall, did you get accepted to your 1st or 2nd choice school? (check all that apply) Not accepted to top choice schools

  17. Did you use an outside Counselor to help you with your post secondary planning? No.

  18. How did you prepare for your SAT's or ACT's?

    I used my sister's old SAT books and took one online SAT course to study. I did not study for/take the ACTs.

  19. What factors have strongly influenced your post secondary plans? (on a scale of 1 to 5) Financial concerns (3) Reputation of school (3) Programs or majors offered (3) Size of school (3) Location (4)

  20. Can we have a JBHS Junior or Senior contact you at your college so they can learn more about the school? Yes.

  21. Overall, how would you rate your high school experience at JBHS? Positive

  22. Please feel free to add any additional comments below

    There are two problems I wish had been solved at our school:

  • the drug problem; and

  • excessive academic leniency. The first can be solved (in my opinion) simply by much stronger penalizations.

    The latter may be helped by allowing students more freedom to take challenging courses (e.g., allow students to take APs in sophomore year or allow exceptions to strict graduation requirements for their genuine interests). I can discuss this more in the in-person interview.

    And sorry for taking this survey so last-minute.


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Once I went down the road of being a stinker, I couldn't go back.

Mr. Ecsedy