Norwich University is a unique private college in the fact that, for 175 years, civilian students did not live on campus. Founded in 1819, it wasn't until 1972 before they merged with Vermont college and shuttled civilians to and from the campus. In 1994, the full merge of Vermont College and Norwich University, The Military College of the State of Vermont, became a reality and civilians and women were allowed to live on campus with the corps and women could be in the corps for the first time.
This is the moment in history that allowed me to be able to even consider Norwich as a choice. While attending, I got asked a lot my first year why I went to Norwich if I was just going to be a civilian. Why not go to a normal college? I always know the answer, but explaining it to someone who doesn't really know me is difficult. First of all, the way I found out about Norwich blew my mind.
One day I was checking my email designated to the college search, scrolling through the mounds of college's in North Carolina waiving my applications fees or trying to sell me on some aspect of their school, not knowing I wanted to be a good distance from home when I went to college. That's when I stumbled upon an email from Norwich's head wrestling coach, saying he'd love to have me visit the school and check out the team. Now, in my wrestling career I had plenty of people decide my name was just a typo, or thought it was just spelled funny, and decide I was actually called Kyle, and a boy. So my first response to Coach was pretty much I'd love to, but you know I'm a girl, right? The next email I got back mentioned nothing of my gender question and simply said if I was interested I should fill out a prospective athlete form. I raced down the stairs and showed my computer to my parents, shocked and elated that I had received an email from an actual college wrestling coach that didn't care if I was a female that wanted to wrestle co-ed. That was a big check on my list, especially since my number one college was very against females wrestling on previously all-male team.
They had psychology, but I was hoping to look more in depth into forensic psychology. When I visited, that was checked off too, since they were advertising a forensic psychology minor that you could take. Another plus was that you were required to do research to graduate, and boy did I have a lot of hypotheses I'd love to look at on a university's dime.
The last thing was the sense of home I felt when visiting. I'd visited probably around seven colleges and that was the only one that when I spent time there, it felt like I belonged. As for the part about becoming a civilian, well, I pondered being corps for a while. The option of doing research in the military appealed to me, but I could always contract as a civilian. I decided in the end my distaste for authority acting like their, well, authority, and the Army recruiter who told me yeah, maybe the military isn't for you, were probably good signs I shouldn't go corps side.
That's why I went civilian, that's why I chose a private military academy rather than a normal college, and I'm glad I did. There's nowhere else I think I could've gotten the experiences I did other than Norwich. I somewhat understand a world most don't even get the chance to see. I can communicate with people in what can seem like a whole other language. And while the military path isn't necessarily for me, I know the other options that are open to me from this experience I was blessed to have.