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      Warsaw high schoolers learn lessons about college life

      As area high school seniors start their last semester, they tend to have a lot of questions about the next step.

      Warsaw High School held its annual "Freshman Experience" to help prepare students for college. This is a program where former students come back and reflect on their first year of college. Juniors and seniors attend the "Freshman Experience" to hear firsthand lessons from former locker mates.

      "We have always tried to do some things differently and see what we can do to help enhance our students to get them ready for college once they leave here. And this is a great opportunity we thought to be able to bring some students who have been out for a semester to come back and kind of share their experiences they had culturally, socially, and academically," Dean of students Paul O'Day said.

      The event is held in the school auditorium and is an open forum for discussion. They tackled topics such as financial aid, feeling home sick, and the occasional twists and turns in their social life.

      "It's better to hear from kids you know I think than just read from papers or have adults sell you all what you should do. It's better. It's more personal I think," former student Ashlie Knipe said.

      Knipe now attends college at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville.

      Jeremy Ferguson spoke at the event and graduated from Warsaw High School last year. With all of the dual credit he accrued in high school, Ferguson said he is going to be a junior during his second year of college.

      "Believe what you hear. College is an experience everyone should have. It's your first time being out on your own. You learn what it is like to be out on your own with a little bit of help with your parents still paying for things. It's kind of that first step to being out in the real world," Ferguson said.

      "It's just been an opportunity I think to enhance our students to get ready and another leg up on preparing students to be ahead of other students they are contending with at colleges and universities," O'Day said.

      A total of 12 Warsaw High School graduates attended to speak. They represented 10 different colleges around the country. Some were as close as Quincy and as far as New York.

      The Freshman Experience program began 21-years-ago.