As much as we might like to pretend it’s never going to happen, the day is drawing close when our favorite seniors are going to accept their diplomas and walk away from Morningside Heights. In an effort to capture everything these seniors have to share before they take off into post-grad life, Her Campus Columbia Barnard is running a series of profiles of some of our favorite members of the Class of 2018. This week, we’re chatting with Chandler Precht, a Barnard College student graduating with a degree in Environmental Studies, Spanish and Latin American Studies, and Chemistry.
What are your post-college plans?
Currently I’m applying for a job, hopefully in environmental consulting. But I recently got into grad school, into the Masters of Science in Sustainability Science at Columbia. It’s a brand-new program!
How do you feel about being a ‘guinea pig’ for a new program?
It’s exciting! The curriculum is great, the classes sound awesome, and the professors are obviously amazing. Arthur Lerner-Lam is the director of the program, and there’s a class on ocean and corals that’s taught by Brad Linsley. That class is going to be great as well. I’m excited that people haven’t taken these classes before because I won’t come in with any preconceived ideas.
So you’re living in the city?
That’s the plan! But I still haven’t found an apartment or anything. First things first, I need to find a job and once I find the job then I can figure out the apartment or living situation.
So you’re remaining in school, and at the same school. Are there clubs and activities you think you might continue, or new ones that you want to try?
I don’t know if I’ll have time. I’ll be doing school part time and hopefully have a job full time and might not have time for those extra-curriculars. I’d also like to expand my social life outside of the college scene; I think it’s time to grow a little bit socially, emotionally, etc. I don’t necessarily know if I’ll have time for clubs on campus. But I do love CU Scientists and Engineers for a Better Society! I was President last year and I’m a student advisor this year, so I could see myself definitely going to meetings and all their events. Then again, I also don’t know what grad clubs are available. I think I’ll figure it out next year once I get my bearings.
What is your biggest fear about leaving college and going off into the real world?
That’s hard! I think it’s trying to maintain the friendships that I made here. They’re great right now, most likely because I see my friends all the time, but I think it’s going to be so difficult when we all branch out and leave. Everybody goes off in their own direction, whether they’re going to grad school or working full-time or moving halfway across the world. I don’t really know what everybody’s plans are right now. I think everybody is a little bit concerned about how we’re all going to maintain friendships if we don’t end up in the same place. So I think that’s my biggest fear: trying to navigate that social aspect of trying to make new friends but also maintaining the ones that I made here. And I’ve definitely grown apart from a lot of my high school friends, which I hope doesn’t happen with the friends that I’ve made here. But, it’s possible.
What was your best opportunity over your 4 years in college?
All the geology field trips were unbelievable! But I think the best opportunity that I’ve had here was getting an internship at the Earth Institute the summer after my freshman year. I think that was a saving grace for me. At first I didn’t have any plans, but I knew that I wanted a job after freshman year. Cedalia Rodriguez from the Environmental Science Department had been my freshman year academic advisor, and I told her that I was concerned about summer plans. All of a sudden, when I’m already home in Miami, she sends me an email and suggested that I apply for the position. Even though I was already back home, I applied and ended up getting it, and I’ve been working there ever since. So many good things have come from it. I’ve made a lot of great connections, and I love the Earth Institute. I think that would be the best opportunity that I’ve had here at Columbia.
What’s one thing that you’ll be happy to leave behind when you leave?
Barnard Administration. ResLife, Financial Aid, all the deans. I want to get out and away from the bureaucracy. The Bursar especially; I’ve been dealing with them in a very negative way for almost all my time here. That’s what I’ll be very happy to leave behind.
What’s one thing you regret in your time here?
I think I regret a lot – well, not necessarily regret, but there are many things that I would do differently. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned a lot about friendships and communication. I think that I could have navigated some of my friendships a little bit better here at college. But I wouldn’t even say that’s my biggest regret. I actually think that it would be not taking more advantage of the resources here. For example, I didn’t know there was an Italy trip for geology. Had I known, I would have been there in a heartbeat! So, I wish I would have been more on top of all the academic and enriching opportunities that Columbia offers, because there are just so many of them.
Any advice for underclassmen?
Be persistent. Just be persistent. You’re not going to get anything out of just sitting back and letting people walk all over you. You really need to keep pushing for what you want. You’re paying and working really hard to be here, you worked really hard to get here, so be persistent. Don’t let anybody tell you no.
What do you still have left to do in your short time here?
I have a lot to still do! But I think I’m ready to go, because I’m staying here, even though it’s in a different way. I think I’m ready to walk across that stage! Well, I mean I do have to finish my thesis, there is that. But I think that I’ve done everything; I’m good!
Thank you, Chandler for your amazing reflections and insights. We wish you the best of luck in the post-grad world!