Takeaways from The Graduate Workshop

17 Takeaways from the 17th annual Graduate Workshop
Posted on 01/24/2020
 ‚ÄčPicture from graduate workshop
The Graduate Workshop started 17 years ago, as the most recent Irondequoit High School graduating class returns to give our staff critical feedback on what we did right and what we could improve on to prepare students for life after IHS. Three years ago, instead of graduates just giving feedback to the current senior class, they also met with juniors to dispense advice and tips about the college search and selection process along with post-graduate life.

This year’s Graduate Workshop happened Jan. 9. Coincidentally, 17 graduates returned for the 17th edition to share insights on their IHS careers and about the brief time since commencement. Mrs. Karen Finter, the West Irondequoit’s Director of Instruction for grades 7-12, and Director of Data, Mr. Chuck Miller, guided graduates through an hour-long discussion over lunch. Class of 2019 members first shared opinions on what strengths exist at IHS while also offering constructive criticism on areas they felt need improvement. Forty-minute Q&A sessions with the seniors and juniors followed in the auditorium. Topics ranged from how to get a compatible roommate to handling homesickness and how to find the right college fit. The alumni group included those at four- and two-year colleges and a few already in the workforce.

Here are 17 Takeaways from the 17th annual workshop in the words of the graduates who participated: 


  1. College is as stressful as you make it. If you study hard, you’ll feel less stressed.
  2. Your senior year at IHS is not an “off” year. It should not be an easy year. Challenge yourself. Take art, music and tech courses. Try them when they’re free!
  3. Go the IHS College and Career Center. They’re more than willing to help you. Go during a study hall. They want to help you.
  4. Everyone at Dake and IHS really encourages you to be who you are. That’s clear very early.
  5. Everyone should take a Dual Enrollment or Advanced Placement class. Even if you don’t get college credit, a fast-paced class like that helps. It made my senior year busier than I wanted, but knowing I’d seen the material before was comforting.
  6. Sports at IHS really helped prepare me. They really made me feel connected.
  7. When you’re applying to colleges keep cost in mind. It’s OK to apply to some SUNY schools but also try some “reach” schools because you don’t know how much money you’ll get. Have options.
  8. Be honest filling out roommate forms. I’m a very messy person. I told her I’m very messy and I like my sleep. She’s from Texas; I’m from New York. It’s fun to meet someone you normally wouldn’t at IHS.
  9. Learning how to take care of myself on my own was a big thing. My parents allowed me to be independent, but at college it was sort of figuring things out on my own.
  10. My ‘A-ha’ moment since graduation was when my boss told me I had to be at work at 5:30 – and that’s not at night! But it is cool because I get paid and I get out every day at 2:30 p.m.
  11. I learned a lot during college orientation about how to communicate with people you don’t necessarily agree with. That helped me be more open-minded because in high school we tend to stick with what’s comfortable.
  12. Being in college made me realize just how much money I used to spend. It’s insane. It’s just a different world.
  13. Know how much you eat when choosing a meal plan and know when the dining hall closes. I’ve had Ramen noodles more than I want to remember.
  14. If your roommate isn’t your best friend, leave your dorm room door open. It makes you seem open to meeting new people.
  15. I think every college student goes through a two-week period when they want to go home. Stick through it to the end of the semester; if you do that you’ll probably find you want to go back.
  16. This may sound annoying and nerd-like but school is your first priority. That’s what you’re there for. Focus on that, not a job – unless you really have to get one.
  17. The thought of going in “Undecided” as a major really stressed me. But it’s OK not to know. It really is. You may end up as a dog washer … college is not for everybody.


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