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  • Josie McCartney

Class of 2022 Alumni Discuss Life After Walls

From top left: class of 2022 alumni Fiona Bishop, Alex Kirk , Nicole Lytle (left) and Clara Shapiro Mortion / Credits: Fiona Bishop, Alex Kirk, Nicole Lytle, Clara Shapiro Morton

Walls students spend a lot of time thinking about applying to college, but we rarely consider what life after high school really looks like. Four 2022 Walls graduates recently reflected on their time in high school and

how it impacted their college experiences.

Many said Walls academics prepared them well for college, making the transition easier. Nicole Lytle, who was recruited as a Division I hurdler at Fordham University, explained that “the AP classes at Walls definitely prepared me for the workload in a good amount of my classes.”

Clara Shapiro Morton, a student at Haverford College, concurred. “Walls specifically sets you up to be a really good writer,” said Shapiro Morton, who was The Rookery’s editor-in-chief last year. “I took AP Seminar and AP Research, and I think those both really helped with learning how to structure papers and research appropriately for papers. But even beyond that, I think the rigor of Walls writing will prepare you for college-level writing.”

Alex Kirk is a graduate of the George Washington University Early College Program (GWECP) and attends Princeton University. Because of his participation in GWECP, he experienced high school very differently than most Walls students, taking on four semesters of college classes and the challenges that come with them. “I had a different kind of transition than a lot of people have and I felt much more prepared,” he said, citing strong time management skills.

Fiona Bishop, who studies at the University of Vermont, said seniors at Walls face excess pressure during the college admissions process. “Everyone’s kind of basing their [applications] off of what others are doing and comparing themselves to others,” she said. “The best thing to do is to just think about yourself and think about where you’re going to be the most happy.”

Bishop noted a contrast between UVM’s and Walls’s academic cultures. “[There is] not the same amount of expectation that was put on us in high school,” she said. “It’s nice to know that once you’ve graduated [high school] and you’re a freshman [in college], there’s a lot of pressure that’s off your chest, and it makes it easier to do the things you want to do.”

The Walls alumni also explained that some of their friendships from high school changed in the months since graduation.

Bishop highlighted differences between her friends in high school and college. “It’s nice to get together with people [from high school] over break, but it’s just not the same,” she explained. “You’ve made new friends [at college], and you’re living with them 24/7, [so] you kind of have to become closer to them much more quickly than you did with friends at home.”

On the other hand, Lytle was surprised by how close her high school friendships remained throughout the first semester, “I thought it would be hard to keep in touch. But you only go so long without talking and when you see your [close friends from high school] over break, it’s like no time has passed.”

Shapiro Morton outlined the challenge of making new friends while also staying in touch with friends from home, saying “it’s hard to maintain friendships — even really close friendships — when you’re putting a lot of energy into making new friends as well.”

Still, Bishop said “it’s still a nice reminder to have people from home that you can talk to and understand who you were before you came to college.”

Shapiro Morton had a few words of advice for her former classmates, emphasizing the importance of spending quality time on extracurriculars and activities. “You’ll have more fun and be less stressed if you focus on a smaller amount of things and do them really well,” she said

Bishop urged students to “take your time. Find a way to relax, because I feel like everybody just needs a reminder to relax once in a while.”

Lytle advised students to “enjoy high school while it lasts. I still remember the first day of freshman year, and I feel like it went by in a flash. Don’t let the stress get to you. Enjoy knowing your friends live just a couple miles away and getting to see them every day. Don’t let anxiety about the future hinder your happiness.”

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