Dozens of students gathered in the cafeteria at Lehighton Area High School this week to welcome back last year's senior National Honor Society members.
Last year's seniors are now seasoned college freshmen, and they had lots of advice to share with their former classmates.
The high school hosts its annual Winter Social to bring back last year's seniors so that they can share this wisdom, and hopefully give students still at Lehighton a glimpse of what to expect at college.
The 13 college freshmen first introduced themselves, noting their college and major. Then they delved into questions asked by current honor society members.
They addressed topics such as finding the right school and finding a way to pay for that school. The college students encouraged them to visit campuses, consider each school's majors and extracurricular activities, and think about school size and location. The most important step, they all agreed, is to find a school that you are comfortable with after all, this will be your home for the next four years.
While visiting schools, ask about financial aid. The cost of attending college varies greatly between schools, and most recruiters are happy to discuss aid and find a way to make college affordable.
"Check out how much they will give you for SAT scores and class rank," encouraged Shane Haydt, a freshman at Penn State. "Take every scholarship application, and fill out every one that you qualify for."
He noted that even smaller scholarships can be worth your time.
The cafeteria filled with laughter as the freshmen shared stories about dealing with roommates, facing home sickness, and all-night study sessions. But underneath the humor, they shared important messages.
Among them: This will likely be the first time you've lived with a roommate, and it's important to work with your roommate to resolve issues early in the semester.
"You have to be upfront about issues with your roommates," said Catherine McEvilly. "I live with four other girls, and we're all really different. Communication is a big thing."
The students also pointed out that you'll spend more time in class and on campus than in the dorm room. While it's important to be nice to your roommate, you don't have to be best friends.
"The majority of college is going to class and then doing your homework. You eat, sleep, and do your homework," said Sara Dorward. "That's what college is about learning new things and meeting new people."
This brought up another important topic, time management. All of the freshmen agreed that it's important to manage your time and motivate yourself to go to class and finish assignments.
"I've never had so much free time in my life, and I didn't know what to do with it," admits Dorward. "If you waste the daylight hours, you will get nothing done."
They encouraged the high school students to take advantage of the time they have left at Lehighton, brushing up on their writing and studying skills to prepare for college. A few also suggested that they learn how to do laundry before they leave home.
After the event, the teens gathered to socialize over pizza. The high school students took the time to catch up with their college friends, and to discuss what they've learned about college life.
"I learned that time management is a really good skill," said Madeline Zurn, a senior and the president of National Honor Society. "You really need to have the drive and ambition to do well."
Alex Matika, the reporter for National Honor Society, felt more prepared to handle college life and realized that he needs to begin preparing now.
"They gave us a lot of good insider tips," he said.