Sunday, March 24, 2019
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20160115 SISD life-after-high-school LJ 8139As the oldest child in her family, Paola Chapa wasn’t aware of the process that goes into applying for college and the steps after getting accepted. But with the help of a Sharyland alumni panel, Chapa and the rest of the sophomore class at Sharyland High School gained some knowledge on what life is like after high school.

Ten SHS graduates returned to their alma mater Jan. 8 for a question and answer session on their college and career experience. Majority of the graduates attend a Texas school, but the panel also consisted of students who attend universities in Arkansas, New York and Minnesota.

Some of the questions that concerned the SHS sophomores were how the grads manage their time, how they transitioned from high school and how they deal with homesickness, which was Chapa’s biggest concern.

“Me and my family are super close and I never expect myself to live without them,” the 16 year old said. “I always thought of living here and being with them, going to school, coming back home and them helping with me with everything. I don’t imagine myself on my own yet.”

Chapa said she is looking at colleges in New York to study photography, but is still weighing her the tuition cost.

For Jacob Santiago, a communication major at Saint John’s University in Minnesota he told the sophomores that he had to get used not being surrounded by a large hispanic community and away from a place that was so familiar.

“At first...I hated not knowing anyone. I felt by myself, I was calling my mom everyday and I missed my friends,” Santiago said. “But once you start making friends and meet people, it becomes the opposite. It doesn’t feel home here (in Sharyland), college starts to feel like home.”

Many of the panelists said that the biggest challenge they faced is learning how to balance a personal life and studies without an authority figure monitoring them. Other topics they touched on included studying tips, knowing how to adjust a college schedule, utilizing campus services and how to figure out the best living situation.

Jose de la Garza, a mechanical engineering major at the University of Texas at Austin, said he wished he knew in high school about what he knows now regarding studying and time management. His hope is that the Sharyland students take the information they received at the Q&A, and apply it while they’re still in high school.

“They need to realize that the future is coming. They feel like it's two or three years for them and it’s going to fly by,” de la Garza said. “They need to start preparing, figuring out ‘what I like to do, what I should be doing and what I should be studying and what I should find out about myself.’”

Paola Chapa is mainly looking forward to taking on the challenges that life has to offer her post high school.

“I want to experience new things,” she said. “It’ll be life changing.”