5 Reasons Small Colleges Are Better

5 Reasons Small Colleges Are Better

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Beginning junior year of high school, students around the country start preparing for, arguably, the biggest decision they will make so far in their life. They complete their SATs and ACTs, write essays, apply for scholarships, and various other tasks in order to insure that they will have the opportunity to spend the next four years at the college of their choice.

When I began my journey in finding a college, the biggest struggle I faced in deciding where to attend was the size of the school. What I believed to be my top choice was a university that had roughly 22,000 students, and my other choice was a college of fewer than 2,000 students. After being accepted to both schools, a visit to the small college solidified my decision that life at a big university was not how I wished to spend my years in college. I fell in love with my small college located in small town Emory, Va., and getting ready to be in my third year, I could not imagine being anywhere else. Here’s why I love my small-sized Emory and Henry College and wouldn’t change it for the world.

1. You are a name, not a number.

Due to small class sizes of fewer than 30 students (a majority of the time under 20), it takes the professors, at most, two weeks to remember your name. This allows for you to truly learn the material and form a unique bond with faculty. Emory and Henry has a student-faculty ratio of 10:1, which goes on to even further the relationship between students and faculty. They truly care about you as not just a student, but also as a person, and when they ask, “How are you?” they aren’t just looking for you to reply with the usual “Good. How are you?” Instead, they want to hear about how all your classes are going, what you’ve been struggling with, your personal life, and if they can help you in anyway.

One professor I have is so invested in her students and their success that she doesn’t just end her relationship with them upon graduation day, but corresponds with them and keeps track of their success and has even created a bulletin board documenting where they are and where they are currently employed. I’ve even met an alumna who graduated in 2002, and when I mentioned the previous student to the professor she didn’t even hesitate in remembering whom I was talking about. I’ve met the President of my college, and see him around campus all the time. He’s always eating with students, or talking to them, and isn’t just locked away all the time. It’s crazy how much you really matter to faculty and the campus at a small college.

2. If you miss class you need to be sick, dying, or at a funeral.

For every college student out there reading this, I know that this sounds like something truly awful. Not having the option every single day of whether or not you want to miss class. Well, that just sucks. Starting out I hated the fact that my college had an attendance policy, that for the majority of classes only allows for three unexcused absences. Upon exceeding that number professors have the right to fail you or kick you out of the class. I’ve heard a story of one student who emailed the professor they were going to be unable to attend the class because they were “sick;” the professor then proceeded to make them dinner to take to them and check on them. Needless to say the student wasn’t sick and, more than likely, wasn’t “sick” again. Although the policy isn’t ideal, it really helps to motivate you to go to class and get the education that you are paying for.

When you go away to college you are usually leaving home and your parents who enforce what you can and can’t do. Although we are all typically adults when we go to college, it’s nice still having a little bit of structure and knowing that you can’t completely do whatever you want. It also makes it so that you have to email your professor if you are going to miss class and you learn how to professionally do so, this helps to prepares you for the real world, because when you graduate and gain a real job you can’t miss work whenever you choose.

3. Everyone knows everybody.

If I don’t know somebody’s name on campus, then odds are I know their face. This doesn’t just end with the campus however, at least not at Emory and Henry. There is only one Mexican restaurant in the area, and everyone usually has the same waiter -- good ole Juan. Then there was Jill who owned the closest tanning place; sadly she sold it to someone new, but we all still miss her.

If you chose to do something a little reckless on the weekend, give it five minutes and all of campus will know about it. It’s unfortunate that everyone knows your business, but I believe the good far outweighs the bad. Last year a professor's wife died and the whole campus was notified and sent cards and food; the same goes if a student experiences a loss, if someone gets engaged everyone will congratulate them for weeks, and if it’s your birthday expect a sea of “Happy Birthdays!” from everyone on your way to class (even people whose name you don’t know).

I can leave my stuff somewhere, unattended, and come back having nothing gone. I can walk campus alone, at night, and not worry about something happening to me; for a college aged girl comfort like that is hard to find. Everyone smiles, everyone waves, and for the most part everyone cares.

4. Tradition is kind of a big deal.

I’m sure that traditions can be found at every college, but I think there is something truly special about traditions at a small college. At my college, our football players have a tradition of touching a giant rock located in the stadium before every game in honor of a longtime assistant football coach, and in recognition of all who wore blue and gold before them.

All incoming freshman take part in a community service day, called Service Plunge, which helps them see how the college has a strong community outreach and volunteering base.

If it’s a Wednesday you can bet all your worth that there is fried chicken for lunch at Hometown, Fried Chicken Wednesday is truly a special thing. Every semester when finals roles around there is a late night breakfast that professors and faculty help serve to students to help them get through the long night of studying.

Greek life has the time honored tradition that involves girls, who have received bids from a sorority, walking out the doors of freshmen dormitory MaWa and then running towards the sorority whom they have chosen to accept the bid to. It’s really something crazy to watch and lots of tackling is involved. Life at a small college involves lots of traditions and students and members of the campus love them.

5. Alumni are amazing.

Pride in the college is tremendous since everyone loves the school, and they come back all the time and it’s great. Out of everything that alumni come back for, the thing that they get the most excited for is homecoming. Already the date for homecoming for 2016 has been set and marked on everyone’s calendars. Some people take off work on Friday and come down that day so that they are on campus early enough Saturday to take part in all festivities. Sororities, fraternities, and various other groups, for the most part, provide breakfast and a time for socializing before the game.

Tailgating set up begins almost immediately as the sun rises and there is a ridiculous amount of food. It’s an all-day event and many people don’t even make it to the game or -- if they do -- don’t pay attention because they are having their time of their lives catching up with old friends, teammates, sisters and brothers, and professors. Involvement from alumni does not stop there; a majority of college donations come from alumni, a lot of students who choose to attend the college hear about it from alumni, they provide students with connections, and the list can go on and on about all the things they do for their alma mater. Alumni are fantastic and homecoming is just one example of the display of support they give to the college and love that they have for everyone at Emory and Henry.

In the end the choice of where you go has to do with where you feel is home and I just happened to find that home at a small college. For the rest of my life I may have to explain to people where exactly my little college is, but I’ll also walk away from my four years having formed bonds with faculty, students, community members, and alumni, and I will walk away knowing with all my heart that I’ve at least made one decision right in my life. I found a second family that I will always have and a second home I can always return to.

Cover Image Credit: Emory & Henry College Facebook

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I Went To "The Bachelor" Auditions

And here's why you won’t be seeing me on TV.
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It’s finally time to admit my guilty pleasure: I have always been a huge fan of The Bachelor.

I can readily admit that I’ve been a part of Bachelor fantasy leagues, watch parties, solo watching — you name it, I’ve gone the whole nine yards. While I will admit that the show can be incredibly trashy at times, something about it makes me want to watch it that much more. So when I found out that The Bachelor was holding auditions in Houston, I had to investigate.

While I never had the intention of actually auditioning, there was no way I would miss an opportunity to spend some time people watching and check out the filming location of one of my favorite TV shows.

The casting location of The Bachelor, The Downtown Aquarium in Houston, was less than two blocks away from my office. I assumed that I would easily be able to spot the audition line, secretly hoping that the endless line of people would beg the question: what fish could draw THAT big of a crowd?

As I trekked around the tanks full of aquatic creatures in my bright pink dress and heels (feeling somewhat silly for being in such nice clothes in an aquarium and being really proud of myself for somewhat looking the part), I realized that these auditions would be a lot harder to find than I thought.

Finally, I followed the scent of hairspray leading me up the elevator to the third floor of the aquarium.

The doors slid open. I found myself at the end of a large line of 20-something-year-old men and women and I could feel all eyes on me, their next competitor. I watched as one woman pulled out her travel sized hair curler, someone practiced answering interview questions with a companion, and a man (who was definitely a little too old to be the next bachelor) trying out his own pick-up lines on some of the women standing next to him.

I walked to the end of the line (trying to maintain my nonchalant attitude — I don’t want to find love on a TV show). As I looked around, I realized that one woman had not taken her eyes off of me. She batted her fake eyelashes and looked at her friend, mumbling something about the *grumble mumble* “girl in the pink dress.”

I felt a wave of insecurity as I looked down at my body, immediately beginning to recognize the minor flaws in my appearance.

The string hanging off my dress, the bruise on my ankle, the smudge of mascara I was sure I had on the left corner of my eye. I could feel myself begin to sweat. These women were all so gorgeous. Everyone’s hair was perfectly in place, their eyeliner was done flawlessly, and most of them looked like they had just walked off the runway. Obviously, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

I walked over to the couches and sat down. For someone who for the most part spent most of the two hours each Monday night mocking the cast, I was shocked by how much pressure and tension I felt in the room.

A cop, stationed outside the audition room, looked over at me. After a brief explanation that I was just there to watch, he smiled and offered me a tour around the audition space. I watched the lines of beautiful people walk in and out of the space, realizing that each and every one of these contestants to-be was fixated on their own flaws rather than actually worrying about “love.”

Being with all these people, I can see why it’s so easy to get sucked into the fantasy. Reality TV sells because it’s different than real life. And really, what girl wouldn’t like a rose?

Why was I so intimidated by these people? Reality TV is actually the biggest oxymoron. In real life, one person doesn’t get to call all the shots. Every night isn’t going to be in a helicopter looking over the south of France. A real relationship depends on more than the first impression.

The best part of being in a relationship is the reality. The best part about yourself isn’t your high heels. It’s not the perfect dress or the great pick-up lines. It’s being with the person that you can be real with. While I will always be a fan of The Bachelor franchise, this was a nice dose of reality. I think I’ll stick to my cheap sushi dates and getting caught in the rain.

But for anyone who wants to be on The Bachelor, let me just tell you: Your mom was right. There really are a lot of fish in the sea. Or at least at the aquarium.

Cover Image Credit: The Cut

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I'm Not The Person I Was In High School And I'm Not Sorry I Changed

I'm sorry, the old me can't come to the phone right now.

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If those who knew me in high school hung out with me now, they probably wouldn't recognize me. If my friends from college hung out with me around two years ago, they probably wouldn't recognize me. It's safe to say I've changed... a lot. I definitely find the change to be for the better and I couldn't be happier with the person I've become.

In high school, I would sit at home every night anxiously waiting to leave and go out. Now, honestly, going out is the last thing I want to do any night of the week. While everyone in college is at a fraternity party or at the bars, I prefer to sit at home on the couch, watching Netflix with my boyfriend. That's an ideal night for me and it is exactly the opposite of what I wanted to do a couple of years ago. There's nothing wrong with going out and partying, it's just not what I want to do anymore.

I craved attention in high school. I went to the parties and outings so I could be in Snapchats and photos, just so people would know I was there. I hung out with certain groups of people just so I could say I was "friends" with so-and-so who was so very popular. I wanted to be known and I wanted to be cool.

Now, I couldn't care less. I go to the bars or the parties if I really feel like it or if my friends make me feel bad enough for never going anywhere that I finally decide to show up. It's just not my scene anymore and I no longer worry about missing out.

If you could look back at me during my junior year of high school, you probably would've found me searching for the best-ranked party schools and colleges with the best nearby clubs or bars. Now, you can find me eating snacks on the couch on a Friday night watching the parties through other peoples' Snapchats.

Some may say that I'm boring now, and while I agree that my life is a little less adventurous now than it was in high school, I don't regret the lifestyle changes I've made. I feel happier, I feel like a better person, I feel much more complete. I'm not sorry that I've changed since high school and I'm not sorry that I'm not living the typical "college lifestyle." I don't see anything wrong with that life, it's just not what makes me happy and it's not what I want to do anymore.

I've become a different person since high school and I couldn't be happier about it. I have a lot that's contributed to the change, but my boyfriend definitely was the main factor as he showed me that staying in can be a million times better than a night out. My interests and my social cravings have completely transitioned into that of an 80-year-old grandma, but I don't regret it.

Change doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, it can bring a lot more happiness and comfort. The transition from high school to college is drastic, but you can also use it as an opportunity to transition from one lifestyle to another. I don't regret the lifestyle flip I made and I couldn't be less apologetic about it.

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