Jenna Cuene Offers College Advice, Reminds Tritons to Appreciate Time Here

Adison Karbon, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

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Jenna Cuene, 2019 NDA graduate, is continuing her educational career at the University of Utah and is loving everything about it so far.

She believes the best part of college is the confidence you “gain in yourself when you realize you are capable of being independent.” 

Even though there are people all around the campus ready to help you, you are normally on your own with the opportunity to “devote 100% of your time towards things you’re passionate about.”

Cuene went to Utah knowing one or two people in each grade level, which she found to be super helpful because she knew that if she needed anything, there’d be a familiar face.

Mostly, she surrounds herself with the people she met through “social media before school began, orientations, around the dorns, mountain biking, wakeboard team, orchestra, track, ski club events and classes.”

“It may sound daunting at first, but when you get to college everyone is looking to make new friends, so there is a lot of ‘Hi, what’s your name?’ and then a million name reminders for the next month or so after,” said Cuene, “After awhile you start to recognize a lot of faces even at a big university.” 

Cuene notes that at Salt Lake City, she has met many people who have the same mentality. “It’s so easy to spontaneously decide to go on a day hike or when ski season comes around, hit the slopes,” said Cuene.

Along with these friends, Cuene also has three, randomly chosen roommates she shares apartment-style housing with. They have a kitchen, living space, two bathrooms, and she even has her own room.

“Even with the best of roommates, when you live in close quarters, it is easy to pick up on people’s bad habits,” said Cuene. “Everyone has their own little things that annoy others on occasion, but as long as you respect each other’s space, keep everything clean and rotate chores it is smooth-going.”

With all this going on, Cuene has not had much time to be homesick, but she has missed her family and friends.

She is very grateful for all NDA has taught her, especially the IB program. Without it,she would have had to take most of her general education requirements this year instead of devoting her time towards her design program, urban ecology and violin minors.

“I developed a strong work ethic and received a well-rounded education at NDA; however, I have had to play a lot of catch up,” said Cuene. “One downfall at NDA is that the resources for workshop, software and design backgrounds are very limited.”

“With my NDA education, I have learned fast, but it definitely would have helped to have some of this before college,” she explained.

For NDA students, Cuene has five main tips to prepare for college life.

First, if you are undecided about what you want to do, “focus on the size, location, and affordability of different universities.”

Second, “it is important to decide whether you want to go to school close, near, or far away from home.” 

Cuene said many people told her not to focus on the location, but she believes that is misleading. If being comfortable right away is a priority, stay close to home. 

Cuene choose to go farther away due to wanting to be close to either surf or ski and her career interest is not common in the Midwest. 

Third, “if you do decide to go out of state, then the question of public versus private becomes more pressing due to out-of-state tuition.” 

If Cuene could make a change, she would have applied to more private schools due to the lack of scholarships out-of-state public schools give. 

Fourth, “preparation is key.” IB is great for some colleges, but most want students to go the AP route. Cuene recommends taking an AP test or two.

Finally, “get involved once you get to college.” 

“College is great, but enjoy the rest of your years at NDA,” said Cuene. “The Triton community is a one-of-a-kind special place that I value and miss.”

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