A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Bryan Station seniors use College & Career Center, get tips from panel of graduates


The Q&A panel was part of the kickoff for Bryan Station's new College & Career Center. The group also included Lance Cpl. Shelby Lambert, a 2011 BSHS graduate (far left) and Arielle Donelan of Michigan, a senior at Centre College. (Photos from FCPS)


 

By Tammy Lane
Fayette County Public Schools
 

When students at Bryan Station High want to investigate options for their future, they can now stop by the school’s new College & Career Center.
 

Housed in the former school store, the resource center is in a visible location just around the corner from the main office and across from the auditorium. For its grand-opening week, Bryan Station brought in representatives from several universities and branches of the armed forces. Teachers and staff sported jerseys from their alma maters and shared their career paths with students, and school fight songs played over the intercom during class changes.
 

UK freshmen Max Shier (left) and Thomas McKinley talked about the changes since high school as the panel of BSHS graduates shared “how to be successful in the college experience and stay out of trouble."

“It’s to get them into the mindset of ‘Wow, this is what I need to be doing next,’” said guidance counselor Denise Lawless, who helps prep seniors.
 

Students signed up for time slots to come in and register for the ACT, fill out college paperwork and submit online job applications, and the week culminated with a handful of teacher-led seminars on such useful topics as “surviving and thriving in college math” and presenting a professional demeanor when communicating with professors.
 

Another highlight was the Q&A panel of Bryan Station graduates who came back to share the secrets of “how to be successful in the college experience and stay out of trouble,” as Lawless put it. The four-member panel also included a Centre College senior who happened to be job shadowing at school that day.
 

“I wish somebody had told me to work on my study habits. It takes a lot of patience and dedication,” said Arielle Donelan of Michigan, an anthropology/sociology major at Centre. “Work on procrastination before you get to college. It took me a couple of years to figure that out. The sooner you conquer that, the better.”
 

The guys on the panel, both freshmen at the University of Kentucky, agreed that buckling down the first semester is crucial to academic success.
 

“I was the type of kid in high school who could just get by on grades. Now, everyone has to study, and you have to get in the right habits quickly,” said Thomas McKinley, who signed on for civil engineering and Spanish at UK.
 

Thomas mentioned how a GPA is calculated differently in college, which surprised him, and how keeping up with when assignments are due can be a challenge. “It is hard to get a 3.5,” he stressed. “There’s no extra credit, there’s no gimmes, there’s no handouts.”
 

Max Shier, who is studying international relations, pointed out that while some first-year classes meet in huge lecture halls, students can receive more individualized attention if they’re persistent. Thomas agreed, adding that developing relationships with instructors definitely requires more effort.
 

“You have to get used to competing with everyone in class and getting the professor to notice you,” he said.
 

Lance Cpl. Shelby Lambert, another panelist, chose to enlist in the military after graduating in 2011. Stationed in Yuma, Ariz., Shelby took some basic classes and earned the equivalent of an associate’s degree in meteorology and oceanography forecasting.
 

“I’ve never stepped on a college campus and have over 80 college credits,” she said, adding that the U.S. Marine Corps will pay for her education if she later decides to pursue a four-year degree.
 

The panel also touched on the benefits of Advanced Placement classes, of a fitness routine to avoid packing on the dreaded “freshman 15” and of a trusted support network. Max suggested freshmen find a niche of friends on campus, whether in a sorority, club or other organization.
 

“What’s really cool is getting involved. There’s always something fun to do,” he said.
 

As when Thomas played football for the Defenders, the brotherhood and the requirements of his fraternity keep him focused as he prioritizes daily demands at UK.
 

“One of the biggest things adjusting on campus and getting used to was not having my parents there. It’s all on you now,” Thomas told the roomful of Station students. “You’re living on your own, so there are a lot of things you have to step up and take control of. You’ve got to keep yourself motivated to make the smart decisions.”


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