TAM YAB College Panel Highlights

By: Isabel Garlough-Shah

Every month, the Technology & Adolescent Mental Wellness (TAM) Youth Advisory Board (YAB) provides professional learning opportunities to its members. TAM members are given a voice to which professional development topics are provided. For the April 19th meeting this year, TAM members expressed interest in speaking to current undergraduate students to gather insights on navigating the college experience and admissions process. 

Four panelists ranging from freshman to senior undergraduates spoke at the TAM meeting. While panelists had varying majors and research experiences they had similar college insights to share with the YAB. 

Panelists answered initial questions about their background including majors and hometown, but the conversation led to the theme of expectations and how things may change. Reese Hyzer, the TAM YAB Coordinator, asked panelists “What were your aspirations as a high school student, how did that change, and how did you get to where you are now?”

For panelists like Isabel, expectations for college changed greatly. She originally wanted a degree in acting and musical theater. However, after realizing this wasn’t what she wanted to do for a career, she went to UW-Madison with an undeclared major. Her freshman year she discovered her passion for communication research and pursued this path throughout her college career. 

“When I went to college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Luckily my freshman year I took a class in Mass Media and Gender and from there I was set down the path of my current majors [Journalism and Mass Communications and Gender and Women studies]. I joined a media content coding job that year and that’s what got me sent down the path of Communication Research” said Isabel.

As discussions continued TAM Members began to ask their own questions. One of the main questions was “How did you choose your college?”

Natasha, TAM YAB alum, spoke on the wide net she casted for college applications. She applied for colleges across the U.S. and abroad to give herself options on programs, culture, and size. Her final decision for the University of Michigan came down to speaking with students at the college and personal preference. 

“I realized I wanted a larger school, a research institution, “school spirit”… Your college is somewhere you’ll be for 3-5 years, so you want it to be somewhere you see yourself being happy. It’s always a good idea to talk to students at the schools you’re interested in to get a more candid look at what attending that college would be like” said Natasha. 

Near the end of the meeting, Reese asked the panelists “How do you balance school-work, friendships, and a job in college?” This led to the resounding answer of “ Google Calendar!” from the majority of panelists.

Panelist Jessica added onto this answer by emphasizing how college is a time to prioritize those life-long friendships! Having a Google Calendar especially helped her navigate the balance of a social life and keeping up with assignments and exams.

Current TAM members are preparing for their upcoming college applications. Because of this one of their biggest questions was “What advice do you have for those who are applying to college?” Natasha had this parting advice. 

“I think for those who are applying to college soon, I understand how stressful and overwhelming the college application process can be, but trust that you will get in somewhere. Make sure you are taking care of yourself and take time to make memories your senior year before you and your friends go off to college” 

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