Wildcat Tracks seniors share advice

As the seniors at WHS prepare to depart, many are reflecting on lessons learned throughout their four years. After experiencing every aspect that this school has to offer, the seniors on the Journalism team – Livvy Yun, Annie Kosowsky, and Emilia Tutun – were asked to share the knowledge they’ve gained in their four years in hopes that those who follow in their footsteps will squeeze everything out of their time at the high school.

 

Balancing the Social with the Academic – Annie Kosowsky

   Weston is known to be a competitive school when it comes to sports, academics, and everything in between. If I could give one piece of advice to underclassmen it would be to not get too caught up in grades and varsity letters but to find people who make your classes and extracurriculars worthwhile. 

   It is hard to not get wrapped up in the cut-throat atmosphere of WHS. Most of my peers spent the majority of their junior and senior years focusing on perfect grades and resumes. 

   I found that giving myself time to socialize and do things that I enjoy made my academic focus significantly more productive. Too many times did I encounter friends and peers struggling to handle the pressure of their overloaded schedules. That extra AP might get you into a slightly more prestigious college, but at what cost? 

   You will remember the relationships and friendships you make, not the hours you spent studying for a chemistry test. High school is meant to be a time where you find yourself. It is a lot easier to find joy in learning when you feel comfortable in the environment and know people around you. Making connections with your grade will lead to a much more successful and enjoyable experience.

   I am so thankful for all the people I have met throughout my four years in high school. Those who taught me difficult, but valuable lessons. Each relationship made me the person I am today.

  The key is to find a balance. Getting involved in social activities, academics, and some form of hobby will allow you to become a well-rounded person. Doing things you love will also improve your mental health. It is hard to keep your head above water when you are stuck in a rapid cycle of studying, classes, and homework. 

  I would never take back any of the hours I spent with friends for a better grade in a class. I found my balance and I am able to successfully graduate having soaked up every last moment of my high school experience.

  I am going to college in the fall and feel more prepared than ever thanks to my amazing experiences at Weston. Having the skills to make these connections is just as important as the knowledge behind occupations.

  So take a break every now and then, make those connections that will last you far beyond high school. Trust me, it is well worth it. 

 

Getting Involved in Extracurriculars – Emilia Tutun

  There are many different paths students take; whether it be immersing themselves in arts and theater, utilizing and employing musical and instrumental talents, exploring academic opportunities, embarking on the athletic route either competitively or recreationally, or partaking in a mix of these activities or even none. Entering new environments, like high school or the variety of options available after, can be intimidating and unnerving. 

   I found my niche within sports, which extends beyond the sport itself to the people and coaches that I have gotten the pleasure to know and work with over the years. I have also been a part of a few other communities at school, like DECA, but otherwise, I’ve mostly been involved in the sports scene, specifically track and soccer. 

   Joining clubs and participating in extracurricular activities is another excellent way to become involved in not just the community, but also to endorse your passions. From a personal standpoint, becoming involved in extracurricular activities can be quite rewarding. Another advantage of pursuing said passions is that participating in clubs, and advancing your position within the club, can be beneficial for colleges to see your consistent interests and continued passions. Colleges look for extracurricular activities to see if you are 1) involved in the community, 2) are able to remain committed to something through dedicating time and resources, and 3) able to take initiative and leadership through assuming a role within the club. 

   While I am fortunate enough to be embarking on a new journey playing soccer in college, there are a few regrets that I harbor. For example, I regret not having started earlier; not pursuing my passions from an earlier age even when I knew that playing soccer was something I enjoyed and wanted to take to the next level. I remained intent on staying with my friends on the other sports team I was on, unwilling to sacrifice comfort for the challenges, risks, and the possibility of becoming a great player; afraid to fail and not be good enough. 

    My advice is to not wait. My advice to incoming high school students, and to those moving on to the next chapter of their lives, is to not be afraid to challenge yourself and take risks, especially when you know what you want. I have seen lots of people simply follow the status quo and not pursue their own individual passions; falling into the “we” and not “me.” Regardless of what other people think, which I know is a difficult barrier to overcome, you have to be willing to go after what you want. Obviously, there will be some discomfort when challenging yourself to step outside of your comfort zone, but ultimately no progress regarding your goals, whatever they may be, will be made. 

 

Optimizing the College Process – Livvy Yun

   When it comes to academics and preparing for college, there are many things that I learned throughout my time at WHS. My main pieces of advice regard classes, supplements, and utilizing Early Decision and Early Action. 

   Many students tend to enroll in classes that will look the best on paper, such as APs and Honors classes. While taking academically rigorous classes is definitely important, it is also just as important to take classes that genuinely interest you. This will not only help you determine what you want to pursue in college, but it will also build a unique and interesting application. 

   Students also often make the mistake of trying to do everything: clubs, sports, and every challenging class possible. However, it is more interesting to take a range of classes in your niche interests. For example, I focused on my interests in humanities, art, and social justice. This year, I took classes such as Race, Class, Gender, AP Art, Journalism, and AP English that enhanced my application and made my passions clear on paper. I was able to genuinely enjoy my classes more than ever before while exploring interests I will continue in college. 

   Another piece of advice I’d offer about the college process is highlighting the importance of supplements and the power of Early Decision, Early Decision 2, and Early Action. If test-taking is not your strength, submitting refined and sophisticated supplements is key. I know too many students who waited until the last minute to start supplements and submitted writing that could have been much stronger. My suggestion is to start your Common App and supplements during the summer before  senior year and use resources such as a trusted English teacher to look over your writing. 

   Furthermore, it is a common mistake to overreach with the Early Decision option. Early Decision and Early Decision 2 are prime opportunities to secure a spot in a reasonable, respectable school. Students often apply to a difficult school as a shot in the dark when applying to a more practical school is smarter. Early Decision and Early Decision 2 are two excellent opportunities to get into school early and relieve yourself of stress from the college process. 

   Early Action is also an opportunity to secure a spot in potential schools and have a set of options early on. I applied to as many Early Action schools I was interested in and heard back on a rolling basis. For example, I knew my decision for UMass Amherst as early as November, and was able to take the time to consider it as a possible option. Garnering your decisions with Early Action is a great strategy to not only show demonstrated interest in the school, but to know your options early in the process.

   My final note: the college process gets harder and harder each year. With factors such as some schools going “Test Optional” and an increase in those taking gap years due to Covid, more students are applying to more colleges than ever before. Take every college decision with a grain of salt because as hard as you may work, there are thousands of outside forces that affect your decision. Good luck!