A Message to Seniors



From left to right: Kaelin Collar, Tristen Zikuhr, Katie Larson, Sierra Pimm. Watching the first football game of the season.

Kaelin Collar, Staff Writer

At Sam Barlow High School, I remained certain about my future goals and decisions. I’ve always known I wanted to pursue medicine. When I looked at universities, I was confident that I would attend an out-of-state college.


I was born and raised in Multnomah County, my immediate family’s location. At the beginning of my senior year, I relocated to Salem, meaning I spent most of my senior year commuting. Those months when I was rarely home became a crucial step in my independence. However, I didn’t realize it until I was gone.


The end of my senior year came around, and I chose to go out of state. You’ll never be ready to say goodbye to your friends and family. You can convince yourself that you won’t be affected, but those are moments that you’ll inevitably be saddened by.  


Leaving home teaches you a lot. You learn independence, the importance of budgeting, caring for yourself, and how to discipline yourself. However, moving out is one of the most significant transitions everyone experiences. The biggest lesson I learned is during a tough time, you’ll miss home more. It can remain a challenge even when adjusted, but I recommend staying in touch with your loved ones. I spent all year calling my mother every day. I ended up looking forward to it, which comforted me whenever I struggled.


If you’re staying close to home, I’d recommend not visiting every chance available for the first few months because you won’t adjust. I have friends who moved a couple of hours away from Gresham but chose to visit home every weekend; due to this, they’re still struggling to live independently. As difficult as it may be not to visit, it’s essential to adapt. The sooner you can, the easier it’ll be.


For those attending college, know what you’re paying for and ensure all your scholarships are on your account. Every financial aid office will exploit you. Days before my first semester began, my university lost my FAFSA. I was anxious the entire drive, wondering if I could start classes. Although we were given a solution, I lost all my funds since my school’s record showed the resubmitted date. Since then, I’ve encountered several instances where the school won’t apply my payments, won’t apply scholarships to my account, and will charge me incidental fees. It’s essential to pay the correct amount and be taken care of; otherwise, you’ll endure unnecessary stress.


Another critical thing to do is to make friends. As easy as it may sound, many events at the beginning of each term can be overwhelming, especially while adjusting. You don’t want only to do homework; otherwise, you’ll miss out. Go to as many events as possible because everyone wants to make friends. Befriend classmates to help with homework, studying, or when absent. If you have a roommate, find things to bond over because they’re easily a built-in friend.


College is more difficult than high school. Your classes could only have exams that are your entire grade, or exams will be weighted exceptionally more. Be sure you’re having fun, creating memories, and prioritizing classes. I’ve noticed that students care more about their grades in college because they’re paying for it. The last thing you want is to fail a class or be put on academic probation. 


There’s more flexibility in college, so there may be opportunities you can take advantage of. You have a choice in classes, so the days of being thrown into random electives are over. More specifically, it may be easier to declare a minor if your degree requires more hours in classes that aren’t your major. For example, chemistry majors take many upper-level mathematics courses, so many chemistry majors declare a mathematics minor. Opportunities like those make a university more enjoyable.


Most importantly, befriend your professors. You’ll be in a lecture with hundreds of classmates, so standing out will be challenging. Going to office hours, staying after class, and asking questions will allow you to build a relationship which can help you immensely. For instance, if you’d like to do research, having a relationship will make you noticed; otherwise, you’ll be passed up. Besides, if you plan on attending graduate school, you’ll need to submit a letter of recommendation, and having relationships with professors will give you glowing ones. 


Finally, it’s entirely acceptable to be unsure if you’re pursuing a path you desire. Trying different classes will help you either seek the occupation you imagined or find another career that interests you more. Changing your mind is okay because being utterly confident in pursuing a particular work is more important than being miserable. It’s your life, and the opinions of others don’t define your decisions.


Adulthood and movin

Back row from left to right: Kaelin Collar, Natalie Johnson, Katie Larson. Front row: Tristen Zikuhr. Celebrating the first football win of the season. (ka)

g out are more challenging if you make it hard on yourself. Being away is a great feeling and can be the best years of your life if you allow them to be. I’m beyond thankful I had the love, support, and courage to leave because I’ve met incredible people, gotten out of my comfort zone, strengthened my self-growth, and am in a new atmosphere. When deciding on a university, a former teacher at Barlow told me, “Take a chance on going out-of-state because if you hate it, it’ll be easier to transfer home” Their advice allowed me to be confident in committing to a university.


Whether you go to college, work, or move out, it’s not difficult unless you let it consume you. It may be intimidating, but you’ll eventually get the hang of it, just like everyone else. Don’t overwork yourself; celebrate the victories and make memories. You only experience these years once, so make the most of them. Congratulations, class of 2023, you’re all going to make a difference!