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Advice for High Schoolers Pt. 5: A College Seniors' Take on High School

Updated: Sep 30, 2021

Finally, we come to college. I asked Kirill Shpin, a college senior majoring in Computer Science at the University of California, about what he thought about the school and school system. The university closed during the pandemic in 2020 and is now reopening for the fall 2021 semester. “Right now, we have around 68% of the classes in person, and the rest are going to be online”, Kirill says, also stating that the larger classes with more than 200 students will be held online. Masks are required, but no other protocols are enforced for the students,

Due to the pandemic, many students may be behind on schoolwork, and so many schools adopted the pass/no pass system as a choice for all students. “Mathematically speaking, the advantage is that if you pass a pass/no pass course, then you get the pre-requisite cleared, it does not count to your GPA, and it also can’t count to your major requirements”. A letter grade is recommended for classes you are confident in, as they will count towards credits, but for the unfortunate cases, the pass/no pass system is there.

Talking about the application process, Kirill explained that there are three cases with campuses. Either it is only one campus, and an application towards the whole college, a single application for all the college campuses, or separate applications for the different campuses in the district college. The University of California has only one application for all the campuses, “And the benefit of that one is that its one application for all of the campuses, which made it easier to apply”, generally being rarer that a single application goes to all the schools. On the topics, topics such as clubs and extracurriculars are thrown around a lot. Some say they help the application and resume, while others state that it is a waste of time. “If you are applying straight from high school, it is useful because the college doesn’t have much information on you, so the more it has, the better that is”. If you are a transfer student, however, like Kirill is, focusing on academic achievements goes a longer distance. “From high school, it helps to participate in a club, if you can, participate in a leadership position”.

The SATs and ACTs are also controversial topics among students. Taking only the ACT, Kirill believes that they are not the best idea. “I think, that they are outdated in what they want to represent. They don’t represent knowledge, they represent how well you studied for it”. Many colleges and universities still heavily rely on them, and until an alternative is found, the questions around them increase heavily.

University costs a lot, and though there is some financial aid available for students, some recommend seeking scholarships. “I didn’t receive any scholarships, but mostly because I didn’t apply, I think that was a pretty bad life choice, but I am receiving financial aid”, recommending to find at least some organizations to help in the future. As for general advice, Kirill confidently stated “Don’t skip school”, and pointed out the free available resources around the campus that can seriously help. “Seek out resources on campus, for instance, I am going to be tutoring this year, and a lot of people do not know that tutoring is available for them, especially in a university usually that’s free, because tuition is expensive already”.


Interview with a college senior

High School

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