Alumnae share Archer’s impact on college experience


Photo credit: Alice Grainge

The pennants hung by the class of 2017 on April 28.

Inspired by the Class of 2017 celebrating their college decisions and hanging their pennants, the Oracle interviewed four alumnae to find out how well Archer prepared them for college and impacted their experiences.

A recent alum, Erika Kort ’16 attended her first choice school, Tulane University. Although she began at Archer as a sophomore, she believes that the school dramatically shaped her.

“I wouldn’t change my situation [at Tulane] for the world,” she said. “I found that using the resources offered to me at school overall really helped my transition into a new community.”

As well as attending Archer, living in Los Angeles helped Kort transition. Mentally, she felt ahead of the majority of the other students, who matriculated from other regions.

“The fast paced lifestyle of Los Angeles is similar to one of a college student,” Kort said.

The College Guidance and Human Development departments combine for eleventh and twelfth grade to create a class committed to preparing Archer students for college. Towards the end of senior year, the College Guidance class consists of different classes about freshman year living. Classes on how to avoid the “freshman 15” and lessons on sexual assault on college campuses were ones that stood out to Kort. She credits those classes for helping her transition to living on her own.

In terms of academics, Kort felt very prepared for all of her writing and language courses, but she struggled in math and science.

According to Kort, the English class she took her senior year at Archer, taught by English teacher and  department head Brian Wogensen, really helped her transition.

Kort saw Wogensen as a mentor at Archer.

“He set up a classroom lifestyle that forced me to be independent,” Kort said. “He lets [his students] figure out how to get through their cases without holding their hands.”

Hannah Eshaghian ’13 is currently taking a semester off from NYU Gallatin and will be graduating in 2018. Similarly to Kort, she believes that her senior English class, taught by Jed Donnel, prepared her academically for the rigor of college.

“We read texts and authors that most of my peers didn’t even know about until sophomore or junior year [of college],” she said in an online interview.

Eshaghian remarked that although she was very academically prepared for college, it has never been boring. She was exposed to so many people coming from all over the world, “so the breadth of knowledge and opinions varies wildly,” she said.

In contrast to Kort, who did not have any major difficulties during her first year in college, Eshaghian struggled with taking responsibility.

“The transition that was hardest for me was realizing that even though I was in school, it was definitively my life to live and all my choices were my own,” she said.”[Even though] it sounds so simple, [it] was a huge transition from high school. Being in New York definitely amplified that — there was really no collegiate bubble outside the classroom.”

Having graduated over a decade ago, Annie Thompson ’07 and Annie Wands ’01 experienced a different Archer than most current students.

Thompson went to University of California, Santa Cruz for the first trimester of her freshman year and later transferred to Simmons College, a “women’s centered college,” with a trans-inclusive policy. She graduated from Simmons in 2011 and majored in international relations with a minoring in economics.

Thompson valued the small classes and the ability to get to know her teachers at Archer, but she thought she was going to a big, public UC school.

“I got there and reality hit me,” she said.

After transferring, she found that Simmons was a better fit.

“Simmons was more like Archer in terms of class sizes and getting to know people,” she said.

To Thompson, Archer was the most rigorous school she attended, so she felt prepared to enter college.

Archer really taught me how to speak my mind and not be afraid to speak up in class”

— Annie Wands '01

“Archer is a place where they really push students, and for me at times that was difficult,” she said. “I think that Archer was what really prepared me to well in college and in grad school, and still does.”

Annie Wands ’01 felt similarly. She was a member of Archer’s first graduating class, which had twenty eight girls, and continued on to study at the University of California, Los Angeles. She graduated from UCLA in  in 2005 with a double major in French and Russian languages and literature; she now works at Google in San Francisco.

Wands attended Archer for her junior and senior years after transferring from Marlborough. Although she only spent two years at the school, she believes it was still very impactful.

“Archer really taught me how to speak my mind and not be afraid to speak up in class,” Wands said. This benefited her at UCLA, since the majority of her classes had up to 300 people.

According to Wands, Archer made her feel “really comfortable, even with boys in [her] classes.”

Due to the Advanced Placement courses she was able to take in high school, half of her freshman classes were upper level courses. Wands was placed in advanced French and Russian.

Her college counselors at Archer “were very involved” in the application process because “it was a special year,” since she was a part of the first graduating class, she said.

“Archer taught me to really be proud of who I am as a person, to make no excuses for that and to be comfortable in my own skin,” she said. “I’m really proud of what I learned at Archer.”