Why Attending Youngstown University Was One Of My Smartest Decisions

Why Attending Youngstown University Was One Of My Smartest Decisions

You didn't screw up.
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When I was a senior in high school, I ran into a classmate’s dad at the grocery store. We talked for a few minutes before he asked the typical “Where are you heading for school?” question that plagues a person’s senior year. After telling him I was going to YSU, he smirked and said, “Ah, yes, the old ‘You Screwed Up,’ of course.” I felt my eyebrows furrow and my smile fade from my face as I hurried to end the encounter. As I look back on that situation, I again feel a twinge of anger; sure, it would’ve been nice to go away to school and “see the world,” but I have never felt dissatisfied with my decision to attend YSU.

I was born in Youngstown and grew up on the outskirts of the city, so I’ve always been familiar with the area. Throughout my high school career, I applied to a couple of colleges, but I always knew that I’d end up going to Youngstown State. Originally, when people asked me where I planned to go to school, I’d shrug and say “Just YSU,” but someone pointed out to me once that I always said “just YSU,” and I suddenly become conscious of the fact that I took having a wonderful institution within minutes of my home for granted.

Youngstown State has one of the highest acceptance rates in the state, which a lot of people see as a bad thing. I don’t. I think it’s great that those who don’t necessarily test well or who have had a rough past can come to college and earn a degree to better themselves. Nursing and criminal justice are two of the most popular programs at the university, which means that some of the most caring and brave people are earning their degrees at YSU and then going on to literally save people’s lives. In addition to that, the school of business is booming, the liberal arts are as dominant as ever, and even general studies students are going on to make a huge difference in our community and others.

Having a close relationship with my educators has always been super important to me, and that is something that YSU encourages. My advisor is an angel and has helped me so much, and my professors have gone out of their way to make sure that I succeed, no matter what it takes. Some of the classes that I’ve been in have had a lot of students, but for the most part, the student to teacher ratio is roughly 17:1, which is wonderful for the students who take advantage of what their professors have to offer. I owe a lot of my professors. Everything, and it’s because of them that I’ve fallen more in love with my field of study.

Not only have I had the chance to learn from some of the most wonderful professors, I get to sleep in my bed every night. Sometimes, commuting is hard. If the roads are bad or if traffic is horrendous, I get a little snippy. But I’ve been able to live at home and still attend all of my classes without too much difficulty. I get to eat at the restaurants that I’ve grown up with, I often see people I went to school with, and I didn’t have any awkward homesick stages to fight through (which was a huge relief.) I’m in a familiar setting, and that has made all the difference for myself when it comes to learning.

Most importantly (in the long run, I guess), I’ve been able to save so much money by attending YSU. Since I live at home, I don’t pay room and board. Since I live at home, my grandma can still cook me dinner or I can find something for lunch in the fridge without having to spend all of my money on groceries. And my tuition isn’t outrageously priced. At the end of my college career, I will owe approximately $30,000 in debt. To me, that sounds like a lot, but I know people who pay that much money for one year of tuition at other schools.

When it comes down to it, attending Youngstown State has been one of the best decisions of my life.

P.S. The classmate whose dad I mentioned at the beginning of the story? He failed out of a big name school because he partied too much. So, excuse me, sir, who’s the one who screwed up?

Cover Image Credit: Marriott

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To The Senior Graduating High School In A Month

"What feels like the end, is often the beginning."
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It wasn’t too long ago that I was in your shoes. Just a little over a year ago, I was the senior that had a month left. One month left in the hometown that I grew up in. One month left with the friends that I didn’t want to leave. One month left in the place that I had called “my school” for the past four years. You are probably thinking the same things I thought whenever it came down to only 30 days left. You’re probably scared, nervous, worried, or anxious. Maybe you’re like me and are dying to get out of high school, ready to start a new chapter. Or maybe you aren’t so ready yet. Maybe you’re wishing for a little more time.

As scary as it is, this month you have left will fly by. You’ll blink and you’ll be standing in your cap and gown, waiting for your name to be called to receive your diploma. You’ll look back on your last four years at your school and wonder why time went by so fast. It’ll be bittersweet. However, trust me when I say that you have so much to look forward to. You are about to begin taking the steps to build your future. You are going to grow and learn so much more than any high school class could teach you. You are going to meet amazing people and accomplish amazing things. So, as scared as you might be, I encourage you to take that first step out of your comfort zone and face this world head on. Chase your dreams and work towards your goals. You are smart. You are brave. You are capable of achieving amazing things. All your life, the lessons you have learned have prepared you for this point in your life. You are more than ready.

There are times when you will feel alone, scared, or confused. There are times when it won’t always be easy. But those are the times when you will shine the most because I know you will work through whatever problems you may face. Don’t think of the bad times as a terrible thing. Use them all as learning experiences. As author Joshua Marine once said, “Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”

You might think that this is the end. However, it’s not. This is only the beginning. Trust me when I say that the adventures and opportunities you are about to face are nothing compared to high school. Whether you are going to college, going to work, or something else, this is the beginning of your journey called life. It will be exciting, it will be terrifying, but it will all be worth it.

So, as you walk out of your high school for the very last time, I encourage you to take a deep breath. Relax. You’ll always have the memories to look back on from high school. But your time is now, it begins today. Embrace it.

Cover Image Credit: http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1152445/images/o-HIGH-SCHOOL-GRADUATION-facebook.jpg

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Mourning The Loss

She had no direction and already felt like she had lost herself, anyway.

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She wore her heart on her sleeve but covered her innermost feeling with laughs, smiles, and awkward jokes that only some thought were funny at all. She was happy on the outside and this got her to the place where she is now. Faking it till she made it made sense until she realized she didn't know what she was making it to.

Regardless, she was a bright light in the hallways of her grade school filled with small plastic chairs and brown square desks. She acted most days as a clown in the classroom in order for her to get some kind of attention. She worked on Accelerated Math and reading books extensively, and in her free time her studying habits were almost obsessive.


Brianna Gavin

When asked to do anything for anyone, she dropped all of what she was doing to help.

High school came around and after being separated from her best friend going to a different school, she knew this time she really had to reinvent herself. At first, she stayed in the bubble of grade school friends and found it hard to ever speak up about anything.


Brianna Gavin

She kept her mouth shut for the first year of high school and lived in the shadows of her siblings' bad decisions. That first year, teachers even called her "little Gavin".

As sophomore year of high school came around, she met a teacher that would forever change her life and brought her out of the shadow of her siblings past. She was the first teacher in that high school to see her as her own person, different from her family.

After meeting this teacher, she stepped into the role of being a leader. She went to summer leadership camps and became actively involved in the Social Committee of Student Council. She created a service club and became the president. She got over 100 hours of service done each year, went on mission trips, led and spoke her story at retreats, went to every football game dressed UP in the theme, and still had time to get a high GPA.


Brianna Gavin

She was KILLING it.

In the mornings before school started, she sat in her car for five minutes by herself to separate her home life from her school life. She listened to "One Man Can Change The World" by Big Sean and sang the words to herself as she began to put on a mask for the day.


Brianna Gavin

She was sometimes a clown. She'd walk around the hallways and go to class while eating boxes of cereal and constantly made jokes about ANYTHING going on. One thing you could always count on her for was authenticity and hope.


Brianna Gavin

Even at her job teaching kids how to swim, the second she came out in her brightly colored swimsuit, her kids were already there and ready to say hi to her. Kids would make her cards and families constantly asked her to babysit and told her stories of how much their kids loved her.


One day during school, she was awarded with a scholarship called "You Can Count On Me", given to her because of how reliable, dependable, and important she was to all those around her. She remembered the words that were said about her when she received the scholarship and those were the driving force for her to continue helping others and being there for herself.

But then came college. And with the goodbye to all of her friends, family, and popular school life also came the goodbye to herself.


Brianna Gavin

She now became something she didn't want to be anymore. She stayed in her room, struggled extensively with mental illness, and looked in the mirror without knowing what she was looking at. She didn't have many friends and she felt alone most of the time.

With change and loss, she lost herself. She, in a sense, died as soon as her relationships with those close friends and family died. And no matter how hard she tries, she will never be the happy, energetic, inspiring, motivational, giving, faithful, loving person she once was.

The truth she has to share...she is gone.

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