Toward the end of my freshman year, although the college process was still far away, I became anxious as the intimidating standardized tests, said to determine my future, were still a foreign concept. So, I decided to dedicate two weeks of my summer to familiarizing myself with the ACT. Now, as a soon to be high school graduate, I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I made during my high school career.
Although countless people told me it was “too early” to begin reviewing test materials, I now know that there is no such thing as preparing too early. Familiarity with the test is crucial. In addition to test preparation, I believe that the Abbey Road Program is a great way to prepare for college itself. Although I had been away from home for longer than two weeks at a time, prior to my attendance, I had never been given so much freedom. There were two mandatory classes a day, and the occasional scheduled college visit or bonding activity, but otherwise we were free to plan our own activities. That meant exploring Boston, hanging out in the dorms, and, of course, finding time to squeeze in homework.
Surprisingly, I believe I benefited greatly from being one of the youngest students in the program. Talking to and interacting with the older students allowed me to see, first hand, how they handled the college process, and it was comforting to see that it wasn’t as stressful or chaotic as most people say. Even recently there have been benefits to staying in contact with the friends I made at Abbey Road; when I began to research colleges and universities during my junior year I was able to reach out to some of the other students, who are now in college, for advice.
One of the most important lessons I learned from Abbey Road was how necessary it is to keep an open mind when touring colleges and universities. During my time in Boston I visited four colleges. The tours were informative but none really stood out. I had not yet developed a strategy for note-taking or methods for remembering specific details about each campus. However, these preliminary visits with Abbey Road proved to be useful when I started touring colleges in my junior year. By then I knew what to expect and was ready for a surplus of information to be thrown at me on each visit. One of the schools I visited was Tufts University, a school I had never heard of before my visit with Abbey Road, and, is, ironically, the university I will be attending next fall.
Although the students seemed friendly and I certainly had no reasons (at least no good ones) for not liking the school, it was hard to imagine myself on campus as the prospect of being a college student seemed so distant. After becoming more informed about many colleges and universities along with the programs that they offer, I realized that Tufts is the perfect place for me. As a student who plans to study either computer science or engineering but also has interests in the humanities, a school with a strong STEM department and a liberal arts feel was a priority. A multidisciplinary education is encouraged at Tufts, so even though I will attend the engineering school, I will have the opportunity to study other subjects if I choose. Additionally, although Tufts is a medium sized research university, I know that I will never feel “lost” since the engineering school is its own community of only 1,200 students.
The location of Tuft’s is also undoubtedly perfect. It is located in Medford, Massachusetts which is a suburb of Boston; this is an the ideal setup because it is a campus, yet Boston is easily accessible by public transportation. Finally, the main reason I chose Tufts is because of the students. Not only are they academically motivated but they are exceeding friendly and competition on campus is minimal in comparison to other universities. In general, my main piece of advice for high school students who are researching and touring colleges is to keep an open mind. You may think you need to be in a certain location, go to a specific sized school, or be set on what you want to study, but, realistically, these ideas will shift, and that’s okay!
I went into the Abbey Road College Prep Program unsure of what to expect, and I left with much more knowledgeable about standardized tests and the college process. I have since applied the lessons I learned from the program, and they definitely made me more prepared than my peers when it was time to start the college process. Lastly, without Abbey Road I am not certain I would have considered Tufts as closely as I did, so I am truly grateful for the opportunity I was given to tour.