By Saoirse Landers, EPS Class of 2020

My experience at EPS prepared me well both in terms of selecting a college and then settling in there. Some of this has been directly related to the lessons, teachers, and counselors at EPS. Other aspects of EPS life, including the students I was lucky enough to share my time with, have also contributed to my ability to settle into college life. This has been at a more subconscious level, but has proven to be equally useful in making my college transition an almost seamless process.

When I was asked to reflect on how my time at Eastside Prep had prepared me for college, my initial thought was that the strong academic program is the key element. However, there are other aspects that can be more nuanced but are every bit as important.
The first thing to say about the academics is the speed with which EPS was able to change learning styles when COVID arose. The main benefit was that while the online courses were not as natural or engaging as in-person classes, I got to finish out my coursework, unlike many
other students I knew outside of EPS.

Another aspect of the academics is that the standards are high. It’s easy when sitting in almost any EPS class to be struck by the thought that there are a lot of very smart people here, and it can be a real challenge to keep up with them. That can seem like a mixed blessing at times but once out of EPS, the benefits of being challenged in such a way are obvious. Many of the EPS teachers make a point of saying that the work done in the final year is often at a college level. This was true and was helpful to me in a number of ways. I already knew which subjects I wished to study—and an introduction to college-level work was a source of comfort. I was not overly worried that I would be overwhelmed or left behind by a significant step up to college. I found that with the preparation EPS had done, I was easily able to balance my new workload and spend time cultivating a social life.

What other aspects of transition to college life did EPS prepare me for? Although the college counseling process is exciting for the class as a whole, EPS provided an individual experience. It’s the student conducting the college search and choosing their own best fit. While always giving me realistic goals and advice, the college counseling team coached me through a lot of turmoil and confusion to get to the University of Richmond, where I am currently pursuing a dual major in Biochemistry and Spanish.

One of the hardest things about leaving Seattle to study on the eastern side of the country is that I didn’t know anyone when I arrived. Having been at EPS for eight years, it had been a long time since I had to make an effort to find new friends. I had made the choice not to connect with many people via social media beforehand believing that I come across better in person than online. I have lost track of the number of times I had to ask people who were already in a group if I could join them. The temptation is to just stay in your room and let things play out. My experience has been that it’s much better to act—to take some positive action to make the first move with people. This has worked well, and I can confidently say that I am happily settled with a social life.

Additionally, and partly due to the claustrophobic nature of pandemic life, I decided that I would need to take up an activity or two. I started by signing up for clubs and activities. While I didn’t make my best friends here, I find that having some connections has served me well. I’m inclined to think that EPS instilled the TALI Rally into me as encouragement to lead and take action when it came to getting involved.