Mason Siefken

22-year-old senior at the University of Minnesota Rochester.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone looking at colleges right now?

I would say that you do not have to know exactly what you want from your future career right away. Think of what interests you, what fields of study you could see yourself having a lasting interest in. From there, look at schools with programs that will help you learn more about that interest and will support you as you try to reach your goals. You can always change majors or transfer schools if you are not satisfied with the path you’re on.

How do you choose the right college?

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There can be a lot of things to consider when choosing a college. I think the most important thing is really finding a school with an academic program that caters best to your interests and will well prepare you for your future. After you find schools like that, think about what other resources they have to offer, such as lab facilities, proximity to (or affiliations with) other organizations, or opportunities they may offer students, to name a few. Finally, you should consider the size and location of the school. You will be there a while, so it should be somewhere you could feel comfortable.

What’s something freshmen should be sure to do in their first few weeks of school to help with academics?

Make sure you are going to your classes prepared. Read the relevant materials before class; they will likely help your understanding. Even briefly reviewing your notes from the last class might help you. Always ask questions early on if you do not understand something. Make sure you know the current material before the class moves on to something else. The new information tends to build on old information so falling behind can make things more difficult.

What’s something freshmen should be sure to do in their first few weeks of school to help with their social life?

Try not to stay in your dorm all the time. Spending time in common areas around campus will allow you to meet new people, especially when school first starts. Also, look into student organizations or clubs on campus. They are always looking for new members and you’ll have a common interest to talk about!

What was one of your big college fears that you now realize was overblown?

Before coming to college, I didn’t really know what to expect and I was worried that it would be a lot more difficult than high school. My course load was pretty full my freshman year, and before I started, I was a little worried I would have trouble keeping up. I quickly found out that as long as I was able to manage my time effectively and start my work sooner rather than later, I had no problem keeping up with the workload. My advice would be to allow yourself more time than you think you’ll need to complete an assignment, and ask for help when you need it.

What’s the biggest mistake you see from new college students?

Some new college students get distracted when they first arrive, probably because the transition can be a bit disorienting at first. They may neglect their classes for a while, which can put them quite a bit behind. Always make sure you attend classes and try to come prepared. Do your best to stay focused, and if you notice you’re not spending as much time on your coursework as you would like to be, try to adjust your habits or seek help.

Any other advice?

The process of finding the right school, applying, then making the transition to college can be stressful, but that will pass.


Amy Ingalls, May 11, 2021. (Ken Klotzbach / kklotzbach@postbulletin.com)
Amy Ingalls, May 11, 2021. (Ken Klotzbach / kklotzbach@postbulletin.com)

Amy Ingalls

56-year-old grad student at St. Mary’s graduate school.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone looking at colleges right now?

Make sure the colleges that you are looking at will fulfill your academic needs, as well as align with your values and principles. I would recommend attending a college that supports your perspectives regarding your world view and promotes programs and activities that support this.

How do you choose the right college?

If you have the opportunity, ask questions about their mission, core values and principles, and how they go about developing, achieving, and fulfilling these key elements. Ask about how staff and faculty collaborate and communicate with students, especially during these challenging times. Ask about safety and mutual respect as well as diversity and equality.

What’s something freshmen should be sure to do in their first few weeks of school to help with academics?

Find out who the TA’s, study groups, and elders are and where you can go to get academic help if you need it. Hook up with an elder (older student) and ask them to help you with strategies on how to have a successful academic year.

What’s something freshmen should be sure to do in their first few weeks of school to help with their social life?

Research clubs, sports, organizations, movements or topics of interest and find out how to join them, and especially consider how the institution is supporting these services. Socializing is important and can be difficult for some, but it’s important to know you don’t want to do all of this alone.

What was one of your big college fears that you now realize was overblown?

That the academic piece was going to be too hard to manage.

What’s the biggest mistake you see from new college students?

Not getting involved with groups and not reaching out for help when they need help.

Any other advice?

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Don’t take yourself so seriously, have fun, study what you love, and take the time to embrace each moment. This is a very exciting time in your life.




RCTC student, Maimuna Aden, May 7, 2021. (Ken Klotzbach / kklotzbach@postbulletin.com)
RCTC student, Maimuna Aden, May 7, 2021. (Ken Klotzbach / kklotzbach@postbulletin.com)

Maimuna Aden

18-year-old John Marshall senior in her second year of PSEO at Rochester Community and Technical College.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone looking at colleges right now?

I would advise them to be wary of where they’re applying. Most students believe they have what it takes to attend a certain college. Make sure you are looking at the college’s requirements, and how you would fit into their school.

How do you choose the right college?

Looking at costs and knowing how well they treat your major. Choose a school not based on prestige, but based on your education.

What’s something freshmen should be sure to do in their first few weeks of school to help with academics?

Reaching out to teachers and going through with all the tours and questions along the way. This will better help prepare them for the semester.

What’s something freshmen should be sure to do in their first few weeks of school to help with their social life?

The activities that are designated for the first week of school should be completed. This way you already have made a connection with your peers as a larger group. Everyone shares a key piece of information about themselves, and we all genuinely get closer to one another.

What was one of your big college fears that you now realize was overblown?

I was terrified of adaptation. I soon realized that everyone is distinct in their own ways, and you must stay true to yourself. Why favor others’ opinions when yours only matters?

What’s the biggest mistake you see from new college students?

I see them taking loans and doing the utmost incredulous things. Don’t make a decision that could impact your finances in 20 years.

Any other piece of advice you want to add?

Don’t be afraid of leaving your hometown for better opportunities. It is only when you are on your own that you start to develop truly.


Gary Egger. May 14, 2021. (Ken Klotzbach / kklotzbach@postbulletin.com)
Gary Egger. May 14, 2021. (Ken Klotzbach / kklotzbach@postbulletin.com)

Gary Vincent Egger

38-year-old beginning his clinical year in Masters of Social Work at Winona State University in Rochester.

What’s your background?

I was born in The Hague in The Netherlands. I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and my Masters of Sociology from Minnesota State University, Mankato.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone looking at colleges right now?

One piece of advice I would give to anyone looking at colleges is to be excited and proud of the important decision you made. Too often people become complacent in life so just taking this step is motivating for oneself and for others that may have reservations. You have to apply for the right reasons, however.

How do you choose the right college?

Choosing the right college comes down to a feeling; a feeling of trust in the school you are interested in and a feeling of what your short-term and long-term goals are. Seek advice from family and friends, but take initiative and reach out to the school. I chose my school by networking and speaking with the program director of the Social Work Department. As stated earlier, applying to schools is an important and exciting step, but it requires hard work and dedication.

What’s something freshmen should be sure to do in their first few weeks of school to help with academics?

When it comes to academics, especially when you are a freshman, it is important that you utilize time management. Having a schedule for school, work, and personal life will improve your chances of success. In addition, do not be afraid to build connections with your professors and peers.

What’s something freshmen should be sure to do in their first few weeks of school to help with their social life?

Building connections with peers can help with improving your social life and academics. The MSW program at Winona State is a hybrid program primarily done on-line; only meeting up once a semester for Project Development labs. With COVID, these labs were held online. Whatever your school’s methods of communication, utilize that to connect with other people. Also, do not be afraid to be vulnerable and work on breaking down walls you may have up.

What was one of your big college fears that you now realize was overblown?

One of my biggest fears was having too high expectations for myself. I wanted to participate in all the topics discussed and if I did not know the question asked or did not participate, I would begin to think that I did not deserve to have been accepted to the school. As my supervisor told me, it is important to be a learner sometimes and observe.

What’s the biggest mistake you see from new college students?

One of the biggest mistakes students can make is not developing relationships with other students and professors. Knowledge is lost by not looking for it in others. Do not be afraid to be wrong and do not be afraid to seek help from others.