Creating a Community of Scholars: A New Perspective on Support in Schuler

by Amanda Siembal, Warren Township High School, Class of 2015

Amanda Siembal, right, with fellow Schuler Scholars on the night of the Wicked exposure and family dinner.

As a Schuler Scholar, I have thought a lot about the amount of work it will take to get into a good college. It is impossible for us to avoid the topic, with summer college programs two years in a row and frequent reminders that our goal is to get into a selective school. I have witnessed friends and family members go through applying to college alone, and they have all seemed confused and overwhelmed.

The idea of trying to explain why I wanted and deserved to go to a college was intimidating. I was clueless as to how I could convey that through an application, or even how to find schools that would be right for me. There are thousands to choose from, and then forms to fill out and essays to write for each college considered. Every word has to be chosen carefully; admissions officers look through a few forms and then determine where you can and cannot go to school for the next four years. It was impossible not to be stressed by something I knew would have such an impact on my life.

Recently, when 75 Warren Schuler Scholars went on an exposure to see Wicked, fears about college went away. The play was fantastic, but the best part of the night was the dinner after. When we returned to school, the cafeteria was crowded with our families and everyone got the chance to spend time together.

During dinner, each senior gave a speech about their favorite memories from Schuler and their plans for college. Many were emotional talking about their experiences, some of them still reflecting on their trips to camp almost three years before. It was strange to hear them telling us all which colleges they were applying to, and realizing that they would soon be leaving the Schuler family they had spent four years with.

Although some Scholars were more secure in their plans for college than others, they all seemed calmer than I had expected. From my perspective, they were going through a terrifying process in which every decision could drastically change the next four years of their lives. Looking around the room, though, I understood why they could speak with such confidence. They were in a room full of Scholars and families who were—or would soon be—going through the same things that they and their families were going through. The Schuler staff members were supporting them and helping them make the right choices about schools. They had friends there who empathized with their problems. Through Schuler, they all had a support system to help them handle the biggest decisions of their lives so far. No matter where they were in the process of choosing their college, they knew that they did not have to go through it alone. That night I learned, thanks to Schuler, no matter how confusing or intimidating applying to college seems, I will have the support I will need to do it successfully.


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