Ryann is counting down the days until she heads to the University of Maryland. She is joining the Public Leadership cohort of the College Park Scholars program, and her enthusiasm for her upcoming drive to College Park is contagious! Read more about her interest in Maryland, connections she’s already formed with classmates, and her recommendations for the college application process.
In light of COVID this fall, what will the structure at Maryland look like?
As of now, all courses will be offered online, to ensure that students do not feel uncomfortable or unsafe attending in person. This fall, Ryann has one in-person class, which meets weekly. Similar to many other college campuses, Maryland’s dining halls will be taking reservations, but will primarily offer take-out options.
Prior to arriving on campus, Ryann will need to take a COVID test and produce a negative result. Upon arrival on campus, Ryann will take an additional test and show a second negative result. Interestingly, while the first day of class is scheduled for August 31, all courses will be remote and all students will quarantine for the first two weeks, allowing time to adjust to the different cultural expectations on campus and create a safe environment for all..
Let’s shift gears from COVID and talk about why you chose the University of Maryland.
“I’m going to be in the Public Leadership cohort through the College Park Scholars living-learning community at Maryland. I’ll take a couple of extra classes during my first and second years, and I will also do an internship, study abroad, and/or research project through the practicum in my second year. A big part of the cohort’s focus is learning how to be a leader in the present climate. We’ll also be focusing on public speaking and social media.
“While I didn’t realize it at first, Maryland is actually the best school for me. They have one of the best Criminology programs in the country, which is my intended major. When I was deciding, I did a ton of research. The campus is close to Washington, D.C., which is my favorite city, and there will be great internship opportunities there. My cousin also goes there and is in the Justice and Legal Thought Scholars community; she’s also majoring in Criminology, which helped me learn more about the school and major. I really like that it’s a big school that’s close to a city, it’s the best for my program, and is just kind of perfect all around!”
What will you be majoring in?
“I’m planning to major in Criminal Justice and Criminology. I am also planning to add Psychology.”
What are you most excited for?
“I’m most excited to leave home. Ever since I went to Israel [in 11th grade], I’ve really been looking forward to college. My Israel experience was kind of like college [because of the independence we had], and I was really looking forward to getting more freedom, meeting more people, and getting out in the world. I don’t [interact with] a lot of people who are different from me living [in my suburban town], and I’m excited to meet people from different cultures and be surrounded by diversity.”
What are you most nervous about?
“COVID, but I’m not super nervous about it.
“I feel like I’ve been prepared to live away from home from going to Israel and working at overnight camp for two summers. I am a little nervous about what happens if I don’t mesh with people there. I’m in a small, secluded group [within my program], so I’m sort of worried if it doesn’t work out. But, my cousin who goes there has reassured me a lot. I’ve also gotten to meet people in different ways; there’s a Facebook group, and through that, I’ve seen a group chat for pickup volleyball, for example, and a lot of other activities. That’s been my way of getting to meet people besides the ones from my floor.”
In addition to the Facebook group, have you connected with your roommate or other students on campus?
“I was connecting with a bunch of people when we thought we’d have roommates, and I met someone who I’d hoped to live with. We’re actually going to live on the same floor [since students on campus won’t have roommates], which I’m really excited about. She’ll be a couple doors down from me. There have also been a bunch of GroupMes, Facebook messages, and Snapchats through my orientation group.”
Are there any offices on campus that you’ve connected with, such as Residence Life, Student Activities, or Disability Services?
“During my online orientation, I learned about Jewish life at Maryland. I didn’t connect with the Hillel on campus directly, but I chatted with students who go to Hillel. I think I’ll connect more with different offices once I’m there in person.
“We also had a call that was just for the Public Leadership cohort, where we met with one of the professors and connected with the program to learn about different information.”
How did you use the extra time you’ve had over the last five months to reach out to people at school or make friends before you got to campus?
“I had a lot of down time. I was going to the Facebook group a lot, especially earlier in March, April, and May, when there were a ton of people going on Facebook. I know once you join [the school’s Facebook group], a lot of people zone out, but it’s really helpful to stay up to date because people would share their Instagram and Snapchat.
“I also knew I didn’t want to have a random roommate. Over the spring, I was FaceTiming with people I’d met because we didn’t have anything else to do. I was able to meet my would-be roommate because of COVID. Once we connected online, I ended up being in Philadelphia, where she lives, and I wouldn’t have been in Pennsylvania at that time and gotten to meet her in person if not for COVID.”
Have you looked into different clubs? How is your school doing extracurriculars this year?
“There’s going to be the First Look Fair during orientation, and this year it’s virtual. They sent us information to look through in advance, so that we have a good idea going in. I was looking at a cappella groups; we have about 30 groups at Maryland, so that’s definitely something I want to get involved in.”
What advice would you give to students going through the application process now?
“Start earlier than I did! I’m a procrastinator and I decided to finish my applications that weren’t Early Action or Early Decision over winter break [instead of finishing them all for the earlier deadlines to be on the safe side]. You have so much down time now to get things done.
“Talk to your guidance counselor a lot. My guidance counselor really talked to me about different schools that would be a good option for me, and she told me about different schools that I hadn’t heard about. She recommended the book Hidden Ivies, and I wouldn’t have learned about a lot of schools otherwise.
“Also, my dad is an English teacher and he helped me a lot on my applications. Definitely don’t be afraid to ask for help from different people along the way.
“Always fill out the optional questions, it might be an extra supplement, and you might [have a hard time thinking of what to say], but do it anyway.”
I loved hearing Ryann’s insight, excitement, and also, her nerves! It is so common for students to be a bit worried about finding their fit on campus, and restricted activities, courses, and 1-on-1 time with peers heightens these concerns this fall. Ryann is already off to a great start! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us, Ryann!
Do you have questions about the college application process and finding the best schools for you or your student? Send an email to danaroseroth at gmail dot com to set up a complimentary 30-minute consultation!