Shelby Goya and Derk Bergman are friends and both juniors at Zachary High, but that’s where the similarities end.

Goya is a native of Zachary and can’t wait to pursue a media and animations degree in college, but getting there involves much more than zeal and excitement. Bergman is a foreign exchange student from the Netherlands, and he’s not sure if he should stay in the United States for college or go home. And a major is as set as warm gelatin.

They both went to College and Coffee looking for thoughts, answers and direction from a panel of college students not too far removed from the same set of questions and challenging decisions.

Nancy Lockett, a librarian at the Zachary Branch of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library System, put the team of college students together. Some were Zachary High graduates, two were home-schooled, and they are all enrolled in a Louisiana college.

Lockett heads the library’s teen council that some of the panel members and attendees were past and current council members.

The panel included Drew Albritton, a junior graphic design and studio art major at Louisiana Tech; Calmer Dighton, a junior management and marketing major at Southeastern Louisiana University, Vanessa Hoffman, a sophomore computer science major at LSU; Shelby Waddell, a sophomore education major at LSU; Jada Brumfield, a sophomore biology major at Xavier; and Eddie Veal, a junior mechanical engineering major at LSU.

Preparation for college while in high school was discussed at length, and Dighton and Albritton, both former home-schoolers, offered the perspective of preparing for college while not physically a part of a high school. Dual-enrollment classes are an option for home-schooled students and those programs were encouraged as a way to get a good sampling of college academic expectations.

Each college student was polled on the pros and cons of working while in school. Not all jobs are alike, and Veal, instead of just pointing out the need to balance work and school, compared on and off-campus jobs. Off-campus jobs might pay more, but he warned that these jobs usually are not as flexible in regards to studying needs and time off for testing periods.

High-schooler Goyer and college junior Albritton have interest in art and design, but Albritton attends a school that does not offer animation and Goyer was encouraged to seek out the details of a program’s offering if a lack of animation courses was a deal-breaker. She is leaning heavily toward University of Louisiana at Lafayette for this reason.

Most on the panel find time for organizations and activities on campus. The students’ activities are social and service. Brumfield would like to become a cardiologist and balances her free time giving back to the community through the Chemistry Club and helping to build houses for the homeless through Habitat for Humanity.

Other topics included getting scholarships, advanced placement and honors classes, developing good studying routines, handling college stress, flexible meal plans, avoiding problem professors, safety on campus, and the pros and cons of the party scene.