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From VMI to 'Bama, '22 Alumni Share Insights on Adjusting to College Life
Mrs. Alexandra Oglesby, Director of Communications

Cape Henry Collegiate welcomed back five alumni from the Class of 2022, who spoke to seniors about the first semester of acclimating to college. 

Mr. Neos Karides, Cadet Avan Johnson, Ms. Cristiana McCollum, Mr. Matt McGraw and Ms. Anna Ruane followed different paths to schools in the south and southeast, but all said they would make the same decision all over again. 

“The best part is the free time,” said Mr. Karides, who attends the University of Georgia. “You can structure your own day.”

In contrast, at Virginia Military Institute, Cadet Johnson follows extraordinarily strict rules on campus, including a prohibition from having or using cell phones. She’s given a weekly schedule telling her where to be, when and what to wear, and faces punishment if she misses class.

“The lifestyle is difficult [....] but I love the structure it gives me,” Cadet Johnson said. “It’s an honor to be there. It’s a small group, but everyone loves it.”

Loving college life didn’t come easy for Cadet Johnson or any of the other four alumni. Each attested to weeks, sometimes even months, of missing home and struggling to adjust. 

“It was a slow start, but it got better,” said Ms. Ruane, who attends Clemson University. “I love the spirit everyone has. It really is such a cute, family atmosphere. I’m really glad I found that.”

At the University of Virginia, Mr. McGraw has also found an atmosphere that he loves, describing a lifestyle of studying hard from Sunday to Thursday, then letting loose on Friday and Saturday.

“Trust the application process, trust that you’ll get into a place you want,” said Mr. McGraw.

As the Class of 2023 begins to make decisions about next year, their predecessors emphasized the importance of visiting campus in person and focusing on individual preferences.

“You need to like it,” said Mr. Karides. “If you feel like you’re forced to be somewhere because of what your parents want or because it’s a ‘better school,’ you’re not going to like it and you’re not going to do as well.” 

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