A Chat with Brianna

This is an empathy interview I conducted with Riverdale high school senior Brianna F. about her experience applying to college.

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This is an interview conducted between myself, Michael Schurr, and Riverdale high school senior, Brianna F. 

MS: Hi Brianna, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me about your experience applying for college.

BF: Of course, my pleasure.

MS: Great, let's get started. I was wondering if you could tell me about your most challenging moment in the college application process. 

BF: The first challenge which I think almost all seniors struggle with is trying to decide what to study. To answer this question, I had to be honest with myself and think about what I like to do. For me that is drawing and being creative, so with that in mind and the type of activities I'm involved in currently at my high school, I decided that I'd like to major in graphic design. The next step, which was most challenging for me, was finding schools that not only offered my particular major, but were also just feasible options for me. My dream would be to go to college on the west coast, but I know that I can't afford to travel between coasts for holidays, so I had to give that dream up (at least for now). So, I narrowed my scope to the east coast and looked for schools that offered graphic design and were also likely to give generous amounts of financial aid. The actual filling out of the application and navigating through the common app part of the process was not as difficult for me because, luckily, I had a lot of support. 

MS: That's wonderful and actually a great segue into my next question. Where did you turn to for support in the admissions process? 

BF: Fortunately in my school every senior is assigned to a counselor with whom they go through the college process, and I took full advantage of this. The support my counselor provided me ranged from helping me send in my SAT scores to interview prep. Of course I leaned heavily on my mother and family, but I also had a lot of help from a program I was once a part of called REACH Prep. REACH Prep is a program that prepares minority students for the rigor of independent schools. Although they work mainly with younger children, they also help alumni apply to college when the time comes. I’m a lucky one because I know not many kids receive as much support as I did. 

MS: Do you feel ready for college? Why or why not?

BF: Yes, I do. I know that my current school has prepared me for the rigor of college level work, so, academically, I am not worried about transitioning into college. In terms of leaving home and being on my own, I’m a bit nervous but I’m still really excited to go to college next fall and begin my life as a young adult. 

MS: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me. 

BF: You are welcome, let me know if I can help in any other way.

[Optional] Synthesize a little! In one sentence, describe what you learned from your empathy exercises or analogous research. (Ex: Good advisors make a difference.)

Students need strong support system (family, school, organizations) to navigate college app process.

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Photo of Jessica Lura

It's interesting comparing this interview to Meredith Herrera 's with Christian (https://collaborate.teachersguild.org/challenge/reach-higher-better-make-room-teachers-guild-college-journey-collaboration/discover/cristian-is-going-to-college ). Very different concerns and, perhaps ironically, Christian is actually going to be bicoastal even though he has never left CA. I wonder how leaving CA will impact his time at Brown and if Brianna would have had similar issues if she'd come to CA?

Photo of Molly McMahon

Michael -- this is great! Wow... such good stuff. I'm wondering, have you also heard James Campbell's interview with Anya. What are the common themes starting to resonate for you as you hear from students about their journey? #love