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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The idea of getting an A on every paper, every exam, every assignment, seems great. It can be known as a reassurance of our hard work and dedication to our 4+ classes we attend every single day.

Losing sleep, skipping meals, forgetting to drink water, skipping out on time with friends and family; these are the things that can occur when your letter of an A is what you are living for.

You are worth more than the grade letter, or the GPA number on your transcript.

Listen, don't get me wrong, getting A's and B's definitely is something to feel accomplished for. It is the approval that you did it, you completed your class, and your hard work paid off.

But honey, get some sleep.

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Trying your best, and working hard for your goals is something that is A-worthy.

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My Future Career Is More Than A 'Glorified Babysitter' Position, Despite What You May Think

I am an education major and extremely proud of it.

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This is a topic that has been on my heart a lot this week. As an Education major, I've heard it all. "Do you know how much teachers make?" Yes. "You ACTUALLY like kids?!?" Yes, I LOVE them. "Why would you do that to yourself?" Because I love it. Because I love being an Education major, I've become extremely passionate about defending it. However, I'm getting tired of feeling like I have to.

This career choice is something that I'm proud of. I know that being a teacher means sacrificing several things. I know that it means sacrificing your financial security. I know that it means sacrificing your ability to not be constantly thinking about 30 other kiddos all of the time. I know that I'll be sacrificing my right to be selfish. If you think about it, everything that a teacher does is utterly selfless. They dedicate their entire college career and teaching career to make sure that YOU understand the material. They spend several chunks of their own money on their classroom to provide an environment that enhances your learning. It's selfless. And it takes a person who recognizes that fact to be a teacher.

Teaching also has many dimensions, that nobody actually thinks about. For example, the class description for one of my classes says that it "Focuses on multicultural and interdisciplinary literature appropriate for middle grades students; implements and evaluates effective multicultural, interdisciplinary instruction through selection, use and development of literature in middle grades classroom" (TAMU catalog). Within this class, I was required to authenticate texts (make sure that they're culturally appropriate), learn about how to build a culturally-diverse classroom library, and how to teach without microaggressions. And these things only scratch the surface of the content that I was required to know for this class. People seem to forget that this is only one aspect of teaching, making sure everyone feels included socially and culturally. So please tell me how "glorified babysitter" fits into this description.

Also, good teachers work extremely hard. A good teacher knows that every child is on a different level and teaches so that each child understands that material. Good teachers present the material in a way that visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners can understand. They use a strategy called differentiation to "instruct a diverse group of students, with diverse learning needs, in the same course, classroom, or learning environment" (Glossary of Education Reform). Also, there will always be special education kiddos who come into the general education classroom for a subject or two, and it's important that good teachers have a lesson prepared specifically for that student that meets their IEP goals. These IEP goals are "Annual goals are statements that identify what knowledge, skills and/or behaviors a student is expected to be able to demonstrate within the period of time beginning with the time the IEP is implemented until the next scheduled review" (naset.org).

Teachers also have to worry about the kiddos who come from broken, abusive, and low socioeconomic households. One of the biggest things that I have learned so far is that a hungry student is a distracted student. There are several students that go to bed hungry and don't eat a lot over the weekend because their family cannot afford it. It's important to know that if you're going to get a student to listen to you, you've gotta keep some crackers or trail mix with you at all times in case they cannot focus because of their lack of food. With that, the other battle with teaching is handling the parents. Some are wonderful, others... not so much. I haven't had to experience this yet personally, but I'm prepared.

The key ingredient in being a good teacher is not the lesson you prepare, but the relationships that you develop with your students. I have sat through countless classes, and not once have I remembered the material taught word for word, but I have remembered the relationship that I've had with the teacher or professor. Being a teacher means that:

"students want to know that you care before they care about how much you know"

Building a relationship with 30+ kids is hard, but it's possible. You have to know that it's okay to admit your personal struggles and show that you are not a robot. Having a relationship with your kids means apologizing when you realize that you taught or did something wrong. Having a relationship means caring about things that students also care about. If they're concerned about something, it's your job to ask about it. Being a relational teacher means asking yourself: "what can I learn from my students today?"

I cannot wait to be a teacher, which entails a lot more than a "glorified babysitter". I cannot wait to teach the future generation everything that they need to know to be successful. I cannot wait to build really cool relationships with them, and see the graduation invitations from them when they graduate with master's degrees from somewhere. I am excited to love on my students and do something with my life that is worthwhile.

However, I know that I am not the only major who feels like they must defend themselves from the rest of society. What I've learned is that everyone will not understand you or what you love. Our job is to educate them respectfully. Every career choice is valid. Everybody does a different job in this world for a good reason. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and that's a good thing! Someone whose brain is wired to be a car salesman probably would not thrive as a scuba diver. Someone who is extremely good at math should probably not try to pursue a career in teaching collegiate literature. We're all different and we all have different passions. Not everyone will understand, and that's okay. Let's do our part to help them understand.

I am a future teacher, and I'm proud of it.

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