Recent MFL MarMac graduates offer college advice

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Peyton Meisner (left), Bryar Ruff and Chase Stubbs were among the former MFL MarMac graduates who shared college advice with high school students last month. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Preparing for college can be tricky.

“You might be asking, ‘Am I ready for college? What do I do? What about schedules and ACT tests?’” remarked MFL MarMac High School Principal Larry Meyer.

In an effort to answer some of these important questions for current students, the school welcomed back 11 recent MFL MarMac graduates for a panel discussion.

The discussion, held on Dec. 18, was the first time MFL MarMac has hosted such an opportunity. Meyer said he hopes hearing from individuals they’re familiar with will make the transition easier for high school students.

“These people have been through everything it takes to get there,” he said of the graduates. “This is a good time to make that connection. Graduation comes in such a big hurry.”

Panel participants included 2015 graduate Nathan McGlaughlin, as well as 2017 grads Emily Hanson, Peyton Meisner, Bryar Ruff, Chase Stubbs, Nick Larson, Nicole Heins, Kayla Keehner, Allison Corlett, Laycee Roys and Amber Adney. 

The group offered advice on everything from class selection to time management.

The panelists said it’s never too early to start planning for college. That means taking some of the courses offered at MFL MarMac through NICC.

“Take as many as you can,” advised Roys, who’s attending Upper Iowa University.

“Get your gen eds (general education requirements) done now,” stressed Keehner, a Wartburg College student. “They’re free.”

Although not college credit courses, Hanson suggested students take composition one and two, because they will help with writing.

“Mr. Thompson’s class taught me how to write a 10-page paper,” she quipped.

The panelists also offered advice on class selection once you’re in college, particularly for those who aren’t sure which major or career they’d like to pursue.

Keehner said to take a variety of classes, covering different subject areas. Be sure those classes transfer, in case you decide to attend a different school, added Heins, a Coe College student.

“If you’re not sure what to do, go to community college,” said McGlaughlin, an Iowa State engineering major. “It’s cheaper, and you can get your gen eds out of the way.”

When selecting a college, consider going outside your comfort zone, noted Hanson, who selected Central College, in Pella.

“Consider going to a school that’s farther away,” she said. “It’s forced me to go out and make friends because I didn’t know anyone there.”

Prospective students also shouldn’t shy away from more expensive schools, she said, touting the importance of grants and scholarships.

Heins agreed: “It’s going to help your future, so don’t freak out about paying for it.”

Stubbs, who’s a business major at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), said understanding the financial commitment helps him, and others, take college more seriously.

“Once you realize you’re paying for college, that it’s an investment in yourself, you take it seriously,” he said.

The panelists said college brings a lot of changes: more freedom, new friends, an opportunity for a fresh start. Time also differs, as students transition from eight class periods each day to having classes just two or three times per week. In college, some days they have class for just a few hours, or even not at all.

“In high school, I had homework every night that was due the next day,” said Ruff, who also attends UNI. “Now, I have two days to work on it.”

“You have the same amount of homework,” McGlaughlin estimated, “but the timing is just different.”

In college, though, Hanson said more time is needed to read and study material. 

As classes continue, you learn what works best for you when it comes to studying, Keehner said.

Heins, who also plays volleyball at Coe, said her time at MFL MarMac helped her with time management.

“Classes here helped me prepare to get my homework done in a timely fashion,” she explained.

Stubbs felt a bit differently.

“In high school, I didn’t have to study too hard,” he said, “so I had to teach myself how to do that.”

During any free moments, the college students encouraged volunteer activities, work study positions and involvement in clubs or intramural sports.

“One of the most important things you can do is get involved, especially with clubs pertaining to your major,” shared Meisner, a communications major at Wartburg, who said he’s gained valuable experience and made a lot of friends.

Roys agreed, stating, “Get involved in clubs, especially those that are community oriented, if you want to go on to grad school.”

Keehner is pursuing a career in education, and has enjoyed earning field experience at a school. Corlett, who’s attending the University of Iowa for ultrasound, said she’s volunteered at a hospital in order to learn more. McGlaughlin suggested joining a learning community for your major.

No matter what, said the panelists, have an open mind and embrace the changes.

“It’s fun to take classes you’re interested in and focus on what you want to do with your life,” McGlaughlin remarked.

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