Opinion Feature: Growing up and moving on


Growing up is a part of life that everyone has to face. In a few short months, the Sevastopol class of 2023 will leave behind this journey and embark on the new adventures that life has to offer. Some of us are serving our country in the military, while others are entering the workforce.

However, a majority of us are continuing our education in some way. One thing that many of my classmates stress about now is what life will be like after college. What are academics going to be like? Where are my current friendships going to stand? And one of the biggest stressors I have is: How will I change as a person?

In my own quest for answers, I reached out to recent Sevastopol graduates to get their perspectives, which helps prepare me for the “real side” of college.

How different will classes be?

I wonder how different classes will be, considering that normal college classes are much more unstructured. In addition, I wonder how topics will be approached differently in college than in high school.

“High school and college classes are so different” 2018 Sevastopol graduate and nursing major Jillie Jorns said. “You don’t have teachers keeping track and reaching out to you if you miss something. So I guess that level of responsibility was a big eye-opening experience, especially coming from a smaller high school.”

Brooklyn Brauner, a 2022 graduate studying political science at Yale, felt confident with her academic abilities going into her freshman year of college. However, she wishes Sevastopol would have taken a more serious approach to real-world topics.

“I wish Sevastopol had provided a more well-rounded view of the materials presented in class, especially regarding race and class” Brauner said. “I took multiple courses this past semester that dealt with topics of identity, and even though they were listed as introductory classes, I still struggled with the new content. There were conversations that many other students had participated in previously that greatly aided in their ability to succeed in the course. Although they are sensitive and complex topics, I feel they should be approached holistically and authentically [at Sevastopol].”

What about friendships?

One of the other most important factors of going to college is the friendships that come from it. Coming from such a small school, everyone knows everyone. I can walk through the hallways every day at school and easily put a name on each person’s face. But going to a college that is almost 10 times the size of Sevastopol, that isn’t the case, and the friends you know now may not be the friends you have a couple of years from now.

Mackenzie Ellefson, a UW- Milwaukee student pursuing a degree in art education, says that the changes she experienced weren’t necessarily bad and that she is happy with the outcome that college has provided for her.

“If there is one thing I can say that will happen to every graduate, it is this: you are going to change as a person after your first year of college,” Ellefson said. “The reality is, while you’re changing, your friends are changing, too. It should be encouraged! You’re growing to become who you want to be, and that can be a very different person than who you are now, so time will tell how those relationships play out.”

How will I change as a person?

The biggest thing, I think, that anyone can take out of the college experience is who they become as a person. How will they get out into the world? How will they overcome the hardships that can come with high school for many people, like finding a steady friend group or being able to express who they are?

Isaiah Spetz, a 2017 graduate who attended The Tisch School of the Arts in the New Studio on Broadway at NYU and majored in Drama with a musical theater emphasis, explains that they have experienced a whole new world outside of high school.

“My advice to students struggling with friendships in high school: Don’t be so worried,” Spetz said. “Do your best to love the people in your life now, as simple as that sounds. Friendships come and go, and wherever you are next year, you will find people who love you for who you are. When I entered college, I felt extremely isolated and was scared and homesick for at least a few years. It takes time to build strong relationships and trust. Spending your whole life in Sevastopol has its benefits, but there is social isolation when you grow up there. Learning who you are, how to make new friends, and how to be a good friend is a process we all must go through, whether that happens in Sturgeon Bay or not.”

In the end, graduating in the next few months isn’t as scary to me as it was before. High school can be a restricting time for everyone, especially when you go to a high school made up of 200 familiar faces that you have known your whole life. As I move on in life, I know that change is okay, and I will meet new people as I go through this journey. I may not be close to the friends I am close with now. I also know that the person I am today may not be the person I am three years from now, and that is okay too.