The Real College Experience As Told By Me

The Real College Experience As Told By Me

The best parts about college.

T'is the season for touring schools. Every year, around this time, it seems there is a mass migration of all prospective students and their families to campuses worldwide as if they are all some sort of prehistoric species looking for a warmer climate. However, rain or shine they make their way from campus to campus on the hunt for the perfect fit. It seems like just yesterday my family and I were partaking in this journey. It is a scary place out there on the "wild" unknown college campuses. I remember from my touring days, I was so overwhelmed by the vast amounts of people- all types- and they towered above me in a way that made them seem more like giants and less like college students. To say the least, it was overwhelming, but when you find that perfect school and everything clicks- it makes the journey worth it.

I remember the first time I entered UMW's campus: it was like someone came and knocked the wind right out of my chest- and oddly I didn't mind at all. It was like that feeling people often describe when you find the perfect wedding dress- that serendipitous "you just know" feeling. The beautiful campus, the small class sizes everything just clicked. Finding the perfect school can be hard, but I hope this article reaches some nervous high school Junior out there, who doesn't know where to start on their search for a home away from home. Take the leap, tour Mary Washington, become an Eagle, and learn how to fly.

Dear UMW,

Thank you...

1. Thank You for Taking Me Out of My Comfort Zone

I was an insecure, sheltered, small town girl when we first met. I left my mountains for you, in search of myself. It was between your old brick buildings and cast iron gate that I found opportunity, and with this opportunity, I work (to this day) on perfecting who I knew I was. It was hard trusting you. You were nothing like I had known before- fast cars, big roads and people using slang like "a brick" or "what a sice." It was not always easy either, there were times I wanted nothing more but to return to my mountains, but looking back now I'm sure glad I didn't.

2. Thank You for Introducing Me to the Love of a Life Time

I sure have met a number of amazing people since I stepped foot on this magical campus, but never in my life have I met someone like him. College is supposed to be a time to figure out who you are, but it seems he came here already knowing. Not only does he seem to know just who he is, but those times where I felt most overwhelmed- he helped me remember who I was. He is my best friend and perfect compliment; tackling college may be our first adventure, but, with a partner like him, I know there will be many more to come.

3. Thank You for Giving Me the Perfect Roommate

It may have taken a year to meet her, but she was 100% worth the wait. She is one of those people you meet, and can't help but love. It's like we were cut from the same cloth, her and I. Whether it is binge watching Pokemon on a Saturday night, or making Mc. Donald's runs- in just one year we have made some of the most memorable moments of my time here at UMW. She is the Bonnie to my Clyde, the Pikachu to my Ash and someday a future bridesmaid. She is my adopted sister in my home away from home and I couldn't be more thankful to have her.

4. Thank You for My Second Family

A second home isn't home without a family, and I am lucky enough to call these crazy people OHANA. We are all different, but somehow it just works. I feel extremely blessed to have them as my support system, and I know they will always be there. Whether we are cramming for finals or having a League of Legends marathon, I know I can count on them to be there- with their sassy comebacks too.

5. Finally, Thank You for Your Many Lessons

In and out of the classroom, UMW, you are constantly teaching me things. I came to you a shy, sheltered small town girl but every day, through the many blessings you brought me, I emerge a better version of myself- and that is why UMW is the best choice I ever made.


A Verry Happy and Blessed Eagle

Cover Image Credit: Libby Patterson

Popular Right Now

To All Incoming Freshmen, When You Get To College, Please Don't Be THAT Freshman

I am pretty sure we all know who I'm talking about.


As we are all counting down the days to return to campus, students are looking forward to meeting new people and reuniting with old friends. And then, there is the freshman.

We have all been there. The eagerness and excitement have been slowly building up through months of summer vacation, all waiting for this moment. I understand the anxiousness, enthusiasm, and insecurities. The opportunity to meet new people and explore a new area is very intriguing. But let's be real, you are here to make memories and get an education. So here are a few pieces of advice from a former college freshman.

1. Don't be that freshman who follows their significant other to college

This is the boy or girl who simply can not think for themselves. The 17-year-old puts their own personal goals and interests aside to sacrifice for a six-month high school relationship. This will more than likely end at an end of semester transfer after the relationship has been tested for a month or two in college life. So if you want to really enjoy your freshman year, make your own decisions and do what is best for you.

2. Don't be that freshman who lets their parents pick their major

"You are not going to school just to waste my money."

This is a statement you might have heard from your parents. As true as it might seem, this is definitely not a good way to start your college years. If you are not majoring in something you can see yourself doing, you are wasting your time. You can major in biology, go to medical school, and make the best grades. But if deep down you don't want to be a doctor, you will NOT end up being a good doctor. When it comes to picking your major, you really have to follow your heart.

3. Don't be that freshman who gets overwhelmed with the first taste of freedom

Yes. It is all very exciting. You don't have a curfew, you don't have rules, you don't have anyone constantly nagging you, but let's not get carried away. Don't be the freshman who gets a tattoo on the first night of living on your own. Don't be the freshman who tries to drink every liquor behind the bar. Don't be the freshman who gets caught up being someone that they aren't. My best advice would be to take things slow.

4. Don't be that freshman who starts school isolated in a relationship

I'm not telling you not to date anyone during your freshman year. I am saying to not cut yourself off from the rest of the world while you date someone. Your first year on campus is such an amazing opportunity to meet people, but people are constantly eager to start dating someone and then only spend time with that person.

Be the freshman who can manage time between friends and relationships.

5. Don't be that freshman who can't handle things on their own

It is your first year on your own. Yes, you still need help from your parents. But at this point, they should not be ordering your textbooks or buying your parking pass. If you need something for a club or for class, YOU should handle it. If you're having roommate problems, YOU should handle it, not your parents. This is the real world and college is a great time for you to start building up to be the person you want to be in the future, but you can't successfully do that if your parents still deal with every minor inconvenience for you.

6. Don't be that freshman who only talks to their high school friends

I know your high school was probably amazing, and you probably had the coolest people go there. However, I believe that college is a great time to be on your own and experience new things. Meeting new people and going to new places will allow you to grow into a more mature person. There is a way to balance meeting new friends and maintaining friendships with childhood friends, and I am sure you will find that balance.

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Dan, The Renovation Man

How my dad turned a friend's death into a stunning new home


I remember the exact day when I found out he had cancer. I was home on fall break, in the car with my mom when her phone rang.

It was my dad.

I watched as her face fell and she started spouting off medical questions and words of comfort.

Hanging up, she turned to me and told me that our close family friend, Fr. Thom had brain cancer. It was aggressive and made the outcome of death not really an if, but a when.

Fr. Thom had been my dad's childhood priest and Catholic school principal growing up. In the little town of Huntington, IN, he was well-known for being a kind man, giving up everything for someone else without hesitation.

Like the time he let my seventeen- year-old Uncle Steve drive his brand new Berlinetta Camaro.

After my dad left the boonies aka Huntington, they lost touch.

This all changed my seventh grade year when Fr. Thom had some legal allegations thrust upon him. He called my dad, a lawyer, who immediately took up the case.

And that is what brought him into my family's life.

After the (false) allegations, his close-knit community of friends began to thin.

He lost his parish, the majority of his diocesan paycheck, and unfortunately some of his spirit. No charges were ever filed, but the truth was that it didn't even matter. The damage was done.

My family took him under our wing, inviting him to family dinners, birthday parties, and cookouts.

Those closest to him knew him to be an avid cook, a lover of cocker spaniels, and an intense researcher.

Flash forward to this year.

He was diagnosed with cancer in October and my father accompanied him to every doctor's visit.

As though the attorney, father of four, does not have enough on his plate..

With a multitude of other health issues, he started being admitted, released, and readmitted to the hospital.

I went with my mom and dad to see him Christmas Night. He was asleep from all the drugs in his system, but he still looked the same.

Even with a bald head.

Even lying in a hospital bed.

He was still the man with the toothy grin who brought his three cocker spaniels over for dinner from time to time.

He was still the cook who would, without hesitation, tell my mom her lasagna was not truly Italian cuisine.

He was still the priest who told me that there were some theological historians who believed dogs went to heaven.


He died a few days after Christmas.

My dad was with him.

For some reason after his death I thought it would all stop. My dad could take a breath and remember his friend.

Wow--if I knew how wrong I was.

First, we had to plan the viewing and the funeral.

My brother, my mom, and my dad, and I walked his casket down the aisle and sat in the front row where the family would sit.

Next, was the estate. My dad was the executor and handled it all. Thankfully our neighbor Linda helped out. She was a god-send.

All of the estate's earning would be donated to Fr. Thom's choice of charities.

Finally, came the house.

When first walking in to Fr. Thom's mid-century modern home, one might think "Oh, I don't think there's too much work that needs to be done."

Well that person is foolish and ignorant of how real estate works.

Everything had to be cleaned, updated, cleaned again, painted, and probably cleaned again.

The list of things that I did included: cleaning a bathroom walls and ceiling, scouring a shower that had never seen a scrub brush, stripping wallpaper, planting flowers, lining cabinets with liner, and cleaning out the garage.

I probably did the least of my family. Compared to my dad, I did nothing.

He took this project on with the strength of an army.

He only hired people for things that he would be ridiculous to even attempt, i.e. installing countertop.

He picked out paint colors, flooring, appliances, lighting all while working full-time.

To say that this project has been stressful, is an understatement of the century. My mom and our neighbor Linda have been invaluable assets to him, but a man can only take so much. This whole summer it has been the house 24/7 as it constantly weighs on him.

The thing is that he didn't have to do this. Fr. Thom didn't ask him to redo his house. He didn't ask that all the appliances be stainless steel. He wouldn't of cared if the landscaping added curb appeal!

But, my dad did it because he felt obligated too.

It was almost like an unspoken promise to an old friend.

On August 7, the house was officially listed to sell.

Our neighbor Linda did an impeccable job on the write up of the house describing,

"This mid-century modern ranch overlooks scenic Indian Village Boulevard from floor-to-ceiling windows beneath beamed Arts & Crafts cathedral ceilings. The open-concept living and dining space has a centerpiece three-side stone fireplace in distinctive sandstone tones. This post-war, baby-boom 1950s ranch offers mid-mod utility, richly stained wood architecture, built-in bookcases and an updated gourmet kitchen with gleaming black granite countertops."

Hower, I am mostly partial to how much the shower gleams in the moonlight.

My dad put his heart and soul into this house and it looks sensational.

So, if you're looking for a new home or just weirdly obsessed with looking at houses like me, check out the link below!,-85.156467,41.037655,-85.187367_rect/14_zm/

Good job, Daddy-O.

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