Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Reflecting Back ~ Alice Johnson

Just before starting my ILC journey
When I first applied to the ILC, I wrote that I wanted to have the chance to actually visit an out-of-state school rather than just read about it. I wanted a hands-on experience with college that would allow me to explore what kind of school I might want to go to in the future as well as help me gain confidence and independence. The ILC provided me with this and so much more, and I am so happy to have been a part of this program. From the interview selection process to the additional college touring to the course itself to the experience and connections I got from my time on a college campus, I feel like I am coming out of this program with a host of new and powerful tools and experiences.

The application and interview process was great practice for the many applications and interviews I will likely face in the future. College apps require you to write about yourself and creatively answer prompts, and that is exactly what the ILC application essays pushed me to do. The interview gave me a chance to practice thinking on my feet, and gave me some insight into what I can do better in future interview situations. It also gave me a little more confidence that I can handle a more formal-style interview in the future, like for college or a job.

I did not expect the college tours to be as significant as they were for me on this trip. I went into them fully expecting to be pretty ambivalent about both of the schools, but ended up having my perspective totally change. Visiting these schools added to my understanding of what I like in a school and what  I don't, and gave me a better idea of what questions I should be asking to really find out what makes a school stand out from other similar schools. There are still plenty of things I need to consider, but both schools are definitely on my list of possible schools to apply to. With college applications beginning to open, getting a couple more college visits under my belt was an incredibly helpful experience for understanding what it is I am actually dealing with as I select and apply for schools.

The course itself was also central part of my experience with the ILC. The course material itself was fascinating of course (pun intended), but the practice that I got with  research design, academic writing, speaking, and presentation skills will be so helpful to me in the future in any field I decide to go into.

Self reflection while exploring Downtown
Being on a college campus -- living in a dorm, eating in a dining hall, and having access to all the fabulous resources that a college has to offer -- was an experience I would have needed to wait until after college acceptance to experience otherwise. Living far away from my family was something I had a little bit of anxiety about before, but now I am confident that I will have the support and resources to handle it. Something I didn't foresee, though, was how much the diversity of my fellow program members would shape my experience. Being in a class and a dorm with people not only from all over the U.S. but also from all over the world was such an incredible way to expand my perspective. I have access to a lot of diversity at home, but being in a program like this where we are all excited to get to know each other was really conducive to communicating and sharing.

All in all, I am emerging from this program a more confident, knowledgeable, and open-minded individual who is better prepared and better equipped to start the college application process with their eyes on a tangible goal in an achievable future. I hope that the ILC is able to continue so that others may have this same incredible opportunity.   

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