Alumni reflect on how well MSMS prepares graduates for higher education


Carter Moore

Students at MSMS all hope to begin college feeling more prepared than if they had remained at their home schools.

Muneebah Umar, Lead Copy Editor

As Canvas notifications begin to trickle down and seniors prepare to start anew as college freshmen in the fall, there is uncertainty surrounding what school will be like post-MSMS. Having spent two years acclimating to the natural rigor, stress and dynamic present at MSMS, the prospect of college, and what comes with it, can be frightening. However, if there is one reason that people are drawn to MSMS, it is the fact that it provides students an opportunity to be more prepared for college.

“I came to MSMS because I knew that it would be the only place for me to get an education to prepare myself for college properly,” junior Fiona Dawe said. 

Similarly, junior Laney Etheridge came to MSMS to make her transition into college easier, academically, and socially, as well as possibly getting into a higher-level college.  

“I attended MSMS to find people like me who aspired to go far in life. I believed that this school would help better prepare me for college because of the experience itself, the environment, and the fact that counselors actually cared about students as individuals, instead of getting people just to graduate,” Etheridge said. “I thought that with this extra boost I would get into a great college and thrive because I had already worked out the kinks at MSMS and survived.” 

In a few months time, juniors will see whether the effort they put into their academics and extracurriculars are enough for them to gain admission into their top colleges, and seniors will see if their hard work the last two years really paid off. However, through MSMS alumni, it’s clear that MSMS prepares students for college and whatever comes after as well as or better than any high school in Mississippi. Alumni all share similar stories, took similar pathways as current MSMS students and credit MSMS’s ability to mold students to be ready for college and future life endeavors. 

The unique academic and social atmosphere at MSMS is what many MSMS alumni credit their success in college to. The diverse classes available made them excited to learn and pursue their interests. Unlike college, students at MSMS have to take classes that don’t necessarily align with their interests. Aside from the classes that students have to take, electives offer the opportunity for students to focus on their interests or try new things. Edith Marie Green, a freshman at the University of Mississippi (UM), class of 2019, took full advantage of the course offerings available to her without trying to limit the scope of her classes. 

“When I was selecting classes at MSMS, I tried to strike a healthy balance of classes that I would enjoy and classes that would challenge me and also make time for my hobbies,” Green said. “I didn’t think too much towards the future when choosing my classes, to be honest. I’m an international studies major, and I think the most international-studies-class I took was Russian. I just tried to enhance my education in a balanced way.”

Similarly, Jenny Nguyen, a junior at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), class of 2017, tried to capitalize and explore her interests, and, already knowing her passions, heavily focused on them at MSMS. 

“I tried to select classes based on my interests. I really enjoyed physics and math, so naturally, I took all of the possible physics and math classes,” Nguyen said. “I didn’t really prioritize getting a high GPA, so I didn’t really hesitate on choosing the more difficult classes that were offered.”

Through these academic opportunities, MSMS alumni were able to expand their choices when it came to applying to college. Grace Anne Beech, a freshman at the United States Air Force Academy, class of 2019, also felt that due to the improvement she made and support she had at MSMS, she was able to get accepted into her university. Nguyen, who never even considered the Ivy League before MSMS, clearly witnessed her improvement as a student when she applied and got accepted. 

“I don’t even think that I would’ve applied to Penn if I hadn’t gone to MSMS,” Nguyen said. “When I was a freshman in high school, I was told by a teacher that I had a very low chance of getting into any prestigious college. That comment stuck with me, and I didn’t really believe that I belonged at an institution like Penn.” 

MSMS helps students improve all aspects of their application, making them more confident in applying to different schools. 

“I think MSMS definitely opened the door for me to attend the Air Force Academy,” Beech said. “The classes I was able to take improved my transcript, and MSMS helped me pull up my ACT score. I also think the teacher recommendation letters at MSMS are better than the ones I got from the teachers at my home high school.” 

Not only is MSMS a place where people have the ability to grow as learners, but due to the residential aspect, students learn to interact and live with their peers on a daily basis and learn more about themselves before college. In addition to this, the connection and shared experiences all MSMS students have with each other, naturally make it very easy to connect with each other. MSMS also is a place, away from home, that can help students grow into their personalities and discover truths about themselves in a safe environment. 

Om Patel, a senior at UM, class of 2016, began to socially flourish once he came to MSMS and adopted his newfound identity once he went to college. In addition to this, MSMS provides exposure for many of its students who come from small towns, a sentiment shared by Haley Hsu, a junior at the University of Southern California (USC), class of 2017.

“[At MSMS] I made an effort to try to be social, stand my ground and chose to be proactive instead of reactive,” Patel said.

“Living 1,000 miles away from home would not have been an easy feat if I had not attended MSMS,” Nguyen said.

“Besides academically, I was more than prepared socially, as well. I was leaving home and going to a new school, where I would live with someone that I’d never met before and have to make brand new friends again,” Hsu said. “This is a terrifying experience, especially since our hometowns tend to be so small and close-knit, so it was nice to have done that before coming to college.”

Regardless of what college they currently attend, all the alums felt that MSMS had given them a strong introduction to college, which they continue to build-upon. The shock and difficulty most freshman experience when adjusting to college’s new environment, was subsided for most alumni. Keely Brewer, a sophomore at the University of Alabama, class of 2018, said that, thanks to MSMS, she was able to hit the ground running and take advantage of opportunities in college. 

“MSMS undoubtedly made me feel more confident heading into my freshman year,” Beech said. “I knew I was capable of taking care of myself and functioning independently, so I spent less time navigating those challenges and more time focused on getting involved and connecting with people.”

Green also felt that her time at MSMS makes her enjoy college more right now. 

“I think I would have been fine at UM having not gone to MSMS, but I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it very much, and I don’t think I would have been as willing to take risks and meet new people and try new things,” Green said. “My time at MSMS also taught me how to be a person more willing to take risks and make mistakes to achieve an outcome.”

Academically-speaking, many alumni found that since they had already taken some of the hardest classes available in high school, college classes were not as intimidating. 

Shivani Patel, a senior at Mississippi State, class of 2017, took classes at MSMS such as AP Chemistry and Calculus I through III. Studying chemical engineering, Patel feels the content of those classes strongly correlate with what she is currently learning.

“As a chemical engineering major, I think the work I’m doing in school now is at the same level and sometimes more difficult than what I had at MSMS,” Patel said. “Some days are busier than others right now, but at MSMS, I think I always had something keeping me occupied.”

Other alumni felt that their course load in college is much more difficult than MSMS, but they are able to better manage because they adapted to it earlier than most students. 

“My workload is definitely more challenging than at MSMS given that I am balancing both an engineering and pre-health curriculum,” Nguyen said. “I built a strong foundation at MSMS, so I felt confident that I could tackle a difficult curriculum.”

Regardless of how exactly MSMS compares to their college, no alum felt their time at MSMS was pointless. For some, it gave them an opportunity to excel in what they’re currently doing, and others started to understand themselves better through their two years there. 

“In the moment, MSMS felt like it was one of the most difficult things that I had done in my life. I pushed myself every day, both inside and outside of the classroom because I wanted to have an impact on someone’s life,” Nguyen said. “MSMS gave me the confidence that I needed to succeed. It taught me tenacity and grit because after failed assignments, I pushed myself more.”

Hsu completely changed how she worked as a student before eventually succeeding at MSMS and now in college. 

“One of my biggest takeaways MSMS taught me was how to learn. I had always been the kind of student who could get away with daydreaming in classes and then later cramming for an exam, in hopes of maintaining a perfect GPA,” Hsu said. “But at MSMS, I actually learned how to learn. I wasn’t so focused on just getting an A in every class and memorizing formulas, but I wanted to learn their context and significance as well.” 

Patel not only grew as a learner, but she was able to discover a new side to her personality and continued to grow during her time at MSMS. Her worldview expanded, and she learned lessons that she had to learn before going to college. 

“The thing I’m most thankful for is the mindset I formed at MSMS. I was taught that not everything comes easy and hard work is the only thing that will propel me forward,” Patel said. “Even though my grades weren’t as perfect as they were at my old school, I appreciated MSMS knocking me off my high horse and teaching me some humility.  This school taught me real-world lessons and helped mold me into the person I am today.”

Alumni all felt that the exposure they all gained through MSMS provided, at least, a solid foundation that made the transition to college much easier and gave them an advantage. Having already acclimated to dorm life and constant assignments, alums are able to spend their time in college getting involved with their interests and building up their resume. The life skills and unique opportunities present at MSMS have made alums achieve their goals and grow as individuals. The level of preparedness they felt when starting college, was due to them spending their last two years of high school at MSMS.