Interview With Dayana Rodriguez, An FDR Alumna

Interview With Dayana Rodriguez, An FDR Alumna

Li Na Jiang, Contributor

It’s never easy to transition to college from high school, and it’s harder to imagine doing so in the middle of a global pandemic. I sat down with Dayana Rodriguez, FDR’s Class of 2021, to learn more about her perspective, from attending FDR to attending college on a full-ride. Dayana enjoyed her stay at FDR. During her time here, Dayana juggled challenging courses, as well as participating in school activities such as volunteering for teachers, the National Honor Society, ASPIRE Club, and Peer Mediation. Now, she’s a college freshman studying psychology at Brooklyn College.

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hi! I’m Dayana and I’m a first-generation Mexican American college student. I go to Brooklyn College with Macaulay Honors. Some facts about me: I love mac and cheese and meeting new people! My favorite holiday is Christmas, and I love hot chocolate.

How is it like transitioning from high school to college in the midst of a pandemic?

It’s been hard. CUNY keeps switching classes from online to in-person, and then back to online- because [many] students still aren’t vaccinated. So right now I only have one in-person class, and it’s difficult trying to keep up with CUNY’s agenda. I do like how when I’m taking classes online, I could be in the comfort of my room and eat while in class, unlike being in person. However, it’s hard making friends in your classes when all you see are names on a screen. It’s harder to adjust to college when you’re still at home taking your classes, rather than having a normal freshman year.

How’s your college experience been thus far?

It’s been STRESSFUL. You’re very independent in college, because no professors, or staff, really help you like in high school. You have to look after yourself and make sure you’re on top of all your work. I’m a pre-med, so my first year is pretty tough and the work is hard, but I’m getting through it.

Anything you would like to share regarding surviving your first year of college?

Absolutely! You still have time to declare a major, but if you know from the start what path you want to take, it will save you time and stress. And be sure you’re passionate about it! Make friends in each of your classes and join study groups. Be sure to manage your time well, create a schedule for your classes, to study, any extracurriculars, job (if you’re working), and time for yourself. Time management is really key. Make sure when you’re studying, you’re studying quality material rather than spending hours on something that’s not going to help you. More importantly, be easy on yourself, college is hard for everyone, and everyone is trying their best. You’re not failing or doing bad, [rather] you’re doing great because you’re trying and that’s what matters. Be comfortable with the fact that you won’t be getting an ‘A’ all the time. Accept your failures and take them as motivation. 

Tell us more about Macaulay Honors!

Macaulay Honors is a highly selective, but great program, if you don’t want to pay to go to a CUNY college. Even though Macaulay is for CUNY’s only, you still have fantastic opportunities like the chance to get paid internships in your field of study or/and study abroad.

Is there any particular advice you have for FDR seniors who are currently applying to college and perhaps Macaulay Honors?

Get everything done right away. Just because you have time doesn’t mean you should save it for the last minute. Have teachers review your essay, apply to scholarships even if it’s only worth $200. When you apply for multiple scholarships, that money will build up and you’re bound to get at least some money. Also, apply to as many schools as possible, whether it’s CUNYs, SUNYs, or privates. It doesn’t hurt to apply, but hopefully, you have a fee waiver. Think about your plans for next year: are you staying in NYC? Are you going to work? Will you move out? All of these are questions you want to consider and be realistic about. I wanted to move out this year, but it was not financially realistic. I am more financially comfortable living with my mom still, and that’s okay. Regarding Macaulay Honors, get your recommendation and reference letters as soon as possible if you consider applying. You have to submit your application to Macaulay much sooner than regular admissions, so don’t procrastinate. Remember to include every extracurricular, any hobby, and volunteer work you have. Be creative in your essays, no one wants to read the same essay topics for thousands of kids. Try to be original, because it’ll help you stand out. Finally, enjoy your senior year. It’s your last year in high school with your friends and seniors, don’t waste it. I wish I had my senior year in person, so I could spend the last few months with the people I loved. The last time I saw everyone was before COVID, and I wish I had what you guys have right now. Good luck!!

Thank you so much, Dayana, for your wonderful insight on your college experience and the college application process itself. Best of luck with all your future endeavors!