Obama Alum Sebastian Conway-Phillips and His College Experience

Temple University

Temple University

I recently contacted Obama alum Sebastian Conway-Phillips to learn about his life post-Obama and his insights about college for current Obama students.

Isaac Degenholtz: What college do you go to?

Sebastian Conway-Phillips: My name is Sebastian Conway-Phillips and I attend Temple University in Philadelphia, PA.

ID: Why there?

SCP:  I came to Temple for two main reasons: location and price. It is in-state, so the Promise applies, and it is the exact urban campus setting that I desired, away from home but close enough to drive back when I need to.

ID: Do you like it?

Going into the year I was uncertain of it but I have grown to love Temple. I have honestly not had a single negative interaction with anyone since I have been here; I love the campus energy and I have loved a lot of the opportunities that a big school in the city offers.

ID: Is it more difficult than Obama?

SCP: It is definitely harder than Obama in ways, but that is to be expected as it is the next step after high school. I would say however, that I have a much easier time in many of my classes which are writing-heavy than my classmates, due to the nature of the liberal arts education I received at Obama Academy. It is important to remember though, that even though it is harder, it is a natural step. In the same way senior year is harder than junior year and the year before it, college is the same single step to the next level. That combined with the fact that you have much more free time on your hands makes any increase in workload manageable.

ID: What about college do you enjoy more than Obama?

SCP: The part about college that I enjoy more than Obama is that it is a bigger “playground” so to speak. My classes are sprawled around campus rather than in one building, I have completely different sets of people in my different classes and I am just generally freer in that regard. Whatever training wheels that you still have by the end of high school are completely gone in college, and though that is a scary thought, it is a surprisingly pleasant reality.

ID:  What is better about Obama?

SCP: As most pros and cons go, there is a double-edged sword to it.  Obama’s biggest advantage is how its small size creates an extremely close-knit community. Everyone knows you and you are surrounded by people who you trust like a second family. All the sports and clubs are very open to everyone in high school and you really can give anything the “college try” in high school, ironically enough. In college, there is a much higher level of commitment and dedication required for a lot of activities, especially sports, so it becomes more of an effort to stay involved. The independence factor makes you have to be the one to search things out. But there are countless organizations and clubs at a big school like Temple which can satisfy most any need to get involved, though you have to do more legwork.

ID: What are you majoring in?

SCP: As of now I am majoring in Civil Engineering and hope to continue that through my entire undergraduate career. It is a lot of math and science but with a real focus on real-life applications.

ID: What do you miss about Obama?

SCP:  I miss a lot about Obama, specifically the people I was around, from all my coaches to Mrs. Sharif and Ms. McKrell in the musical and some of my teachers and friends. The biggest shock in going to college is having your environment and who fills it completely change. It is a very healthy thing, but every once in awhile I do have to flip through the yearbook or watch some USO football film from last year to remember a lot of the fun I had in high school.

ID: Do you think the I.B. Diplomma Programme has helped prepare you well for college?

SCP: The I.B. Diploma Programme itself absolutely helped prepare me for college. I highly recommend taking it. Even if your school does not accept IB credit, the process of preparing for, and taking the exams is a sort of dry run of college. I will say that getting here and being handed a syllabus felt very much like being handed an IB rubric that told me I have an obscenely big paper due in two months that I really shouldn’t procrastinate. IB was the bane of my existence last year but made the first semester of college feel like something I had already practiced many times over from an academic standpoint. Also, if your school does accept credit, being able to place out of even one class is a much bigger deal than one would expect. By not having to take a freshman English class this semester or next I have freed up about 4-5  hours per week at least in homework time alone. That makes all the difference in easing the adjustment to college.

ID: Any other thoughts?

SCP: Finally, I would say that although many of the seniors and maybe even younger students are feeling ready to leave like there is no tomorrow, as I was for most of my senior year, enjoy this year. Only after I got to college did I really appreciate how much fun Obama is. There, of course, are things that may be annoyances about being where you are now, but looking with my 20/20 vision in the rearview mirror I really appreciate my four years at Obama Academy. So whether you are planning on going to college, the military, trade school or the workforce after your time at Obama, enjoy what you have in the moment and the people you are surrounded by, because the teachers, staff, and students at Obama really look out for each other in a way I have not seen anywhere else.

Thanks again to Sebastian for taking the time out of his busy schedule for this interview.