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Freshman Files: First Year at a Large Public University

January 8th, 2016

Each winter, right on the heels of holiday break, we touch base with our students who are now college freshmen to learn about their experiences. It’s exciting for us to hear back about their academic experiences, activities and overall adjustment, and sometimes we receive a response that we feel can be helpful to others.

Grace Huber provided a wonderful analysis of how she found success on a large public university campus, and kindly agreed to allow us to share excerpts from her response with our readers. Of course, our students enroll at colleges of all sizes – small, medium and large – depending on what they find to be the best fit.  Grace’s commentary provides valuable insights for all of our younger students as they consider factors such as optimal student body size, access to faculty, social considerations and the degree of initiative they’re willing to take in their college experience.

“I am very glad that I chose to attend a large public school for multiple reasons. … I’m happy that I academically and socially challenged myself the way I did. … I needed to dare myself to leave the small classroom community. As you may recall, I graduated from a high school with very few students. Though I’m so thankful for that unique community, I was ready to be a small fish in a big pond. Adapting to this environment was difficult at first, but I adjusted very quickly. One of the major acclimatizations that I had to accommodate myself to was the class size. As a pre-med student I took many general courses. In my Psychology 100 course there were over 300 students. No longer did I know my teacher on a personal first-name basis. Though this was intimidating at first, soon I learned the key to being in these courses– office hours. By the end of the semester, my biology professor knew my name because I had met with her on so many occasions to go over the material. These meetings allowed me to get the A in the course that I did not think was possible in the beginning of the semester.

Second, I learned that I could find an identity in an environment outside of a sorority. The Greek life … is huge. When visiting the school for the first time, my tour guide informed us that only 20% of the student demographic was in some sort of Greek organization, but I do not think this statistic is correct. It is very difficult to find girls who do not fill their time with their sorority. Though I don’t think that being a part of a sorority or fraternity is a bad thing at all, I’m simply grateful that I do not belong to one. I was able to find friends in other clubs and organizations that also share similar interests to me. Coming from such a small school I was not used to the idea of having different groups of friends who didn’t know each other. I love how … I have friends who are different from one another, some who share similar interests and others who are completely opposite of me.

I can’t see myself enjoying another school as much as I do this one.”

We’re proud of Grace for navigating her new campus admirably – it’s such a tremendous departure from her small high school. She had great admission options and ultimately chose a large university over a small college, knowing that it would challenge her in many ways. Thanks to her initiative, positive outlook and wise choices, she’s finding great success academically and socially. And that, in a nutshell, is what the right college match is all about! Thanks, Grace, for allowing us to share part of your story with others.

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