Haldane Alumni Return Home After First Semester

Sarah Warren, Kieran Austin, Aaron Culotta and Nicole Pidala in front of Haldane High School (Photo by Allisen Casee)

Members of Class of 2014 share thoughts on beginning college life

By Clayton Smith

This fall, recent Haldane graduates from the class of 2014 experienced their first semesters at college. Many have returned home for winter break, taking a vacation away from academics to enjoy the holidays with friends and family. A few alumni shared their thoughts on the transition into college life, explaining what Haldane prepared them for as well as well as the more surprising aspects of the experience.

Some students found themselves prepared for the amount of work that college had to offer. Sarah Warren, who attends Marist College, said, “I expected to be overwhelmed with work every night, but found there was much less to stress over since I had a greater amount of long-term assignments to complete rather than having many smaller assignments due each class.” Nicole Pidala, who goes to the University of Vermont, was ready to tackle her intense course work thanks to the advanced placement classes she took in high school.

Haldane enhanced Kieran Austin’s experience at Harvard University by preparing him to forge valuable connections with his professors. “At Haldane, close interaction with teachers was not only intuitive but almost made necessary by the small size of the school … I definitely made connections with faculty and fellow students at college that I wouldn’t have without that experience.”

Sarah Warren, Kieran Austin, Aaron Culotta and Nicole Pidala in front of Haldane High School (Photo by Allisen Casee)

Sarah Warren, Kieran Austin, Aaron Culotta and Nicole Pidala in front of Haldane High School (Photo by Allisen Casee)

While the close-knit atmosphere of Haldane better prepared some to create social connections in college, it can be hard to find the same level of intimacy in a larger community. “I arrived on the first day never having met my roommates before, living in a dorm that housed more people than my entire high school,” Warren said. “This was a new experience coming from a small school like Haldane where you can walk down the hallway and name every face you see.”

Michael Halpin, who continued his studies at Dutchess Community College, was happy to meet new people there and hopes to maintain those relationships well into his future. Pidala used social media to stay in contact with her friends and family from hundreds of miles away, which wasn’t always easy. She said: “A negative then would probably be the distance. Even though I love being at UVM and in Burlington, it would be nicer to be closer to home sometimes, and my friends at college.”

An adjustment that students grappled with was the transition into having more freedom. While some were used to a less rigid schedule, others had to learn to manage the time away from home. Aaron Culotta, who went off to SUNY Cobleskill, was comfortable with his new situation. “I was more prepared for the ‘freedom.’ My parents treated me with a lot of trust and respect in high school so I knew how to balance my work and play.”

In contrast, others were less adapted to such laxity. Halpin was caught off guard by his new independence. “I wasn’t prepared for waking up on my own, that’s for sure.” Austin commented, “Trying not to make myself too stressed by schoolwork and finding the times where other things like sleep and fun take priority has been a challenge, but I think I’ve gotten a pretty good idea of it as I’ve gone along.”


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