Our Graphic Design and Social Media guru, Sam Harrison, wanted to fully embrace the college experience -- academics, friends, work ethic, clubs, personal growth, and a deeper faith were all really important to her. Packing in all this was overwhelming, and spending two years at a community college and then finishing at a university made it more of a challenge.
Eventually, Sam figured out how to find her own way and stay grounded. To see how she navigated the transition to college not once but twice, read her story here.
As the new academic year approaches, college students experience a lot of worry about balancing academics, finding friends, joining extracurricular activities (like clubs), and the stress of “adulting.”
Especially as a freshman, this new environment can lead to very stressful times! This is when you start to find your way into being an adult. Often, you have to build a whole new friend group because you chose to go to a college or university apart from your high school friends.
The Acceptance Process
When I was in high school, I had a great support team filled with extremely close friends. While they were being accepted at colleges and universities all over the US, I was getting rejection letters. This was very hard for me to deal with because not going to college was NOT an option for me. I made the decision to apply to Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, NC because I knew they had a two-year transfer program to North Carolina State University - my dream school!
Making a Promise to Myself
Looking back to high school, I didn’t properly manage my time well between my high school classes, friendships and working. I put more importance on my job and friends than I did in school. However, with the start of college, I promised myself I would put more importance on my courses, time management, and achieving my ultimate goal of attending NC State.
While taking classes at Wake Tech, I also worked 30 hours a week at a restaurant. This really challenged me to stick to my focused goal on academics and work ethic. But I wasn’t getting the “full college experience.” Wake Tech didn’t have dorms and was mostly filled with commuter students, so it was extremely hard to meet new people.
In my first year at Wake Tech, I just focused on work and school and had little to no time to socialize, thus not finding a way to really grow. In my second year, Baptist Campus Ministry (BCM) started a large group at the main campus I attended. I was so excited! I could finally meet people who had a common interest as me on campus. Faith is extremely important to me, and I have always made it a top priority. My faith in Jesus grounds me and keeps me focused on goals that I know I can’t complete without Him. I met some amazing people through BCM and it really helped me further my time management skills because the large group met during a break between my courses! Why not fill your time appropriately with something that will energize and uplift you?
While finishing up at Wake Tech, I moved into a townhouse with one of my best friends from high school. Believe it or not, moving in with my best friend provided great lessons in finding my way and balancing my time well. I was able to create importance for a friendship by spending more time with her, and I also learned how to be a roommate, experience budgeting, and manage my school and work life better. She also pushed me harder in my studies to help me achieve my goal of attending NC State and helped me find my place.
Transferring to a University
After two years of attending Wake Tech, I successfully transferred to NC State! By the time I got accepted, I was 20 years old. I was just old enough to have grown out of the first steps into adult life, but still too young to be capable of handling it alone. This was a really hard transition for me and I really struggled with finding my place in a new school once again. Even though NC State and Wake Tech were within 20 mins of each other, they are VASTLY different.
I began attending NC State’s BCM large group and started to find balance again. I was starting to find my way in this new school, finally…
Then, bad news hit when BCM announced funding from the Southern Baptist Convention was ending. BCM shut down and I joined Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) with another best friend of mine. I stayed with RUF until I graduated in May 2015, and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to be a part of such a loving, compassionate group of people. This move helped me grow deeper in my walk with Jesus and form great relationships with people within RUF.
College is a huge, life-changing event that is full of many ups and downs. For those of you who believe that college is the correct path, there is an increased amount of pressure on you for many things.
Connect with people who have common interests. If you are introverted and shy away from one-on-one time with people, join a group! It helped me meet amazing people that I could trust with anything. Or, if you have an important friend in your life, really pour into them. Encourage them daily. Push them to be the best person they can be. Without my friends doing this for me, I don’t think I would be anywhere near where I am today.
If you are planning to work full-time and go to school full-time like I did, hang tight. It can get stressful! If I could go back and tell myself what I know now about my college experience, it would be to really manage time well. Eventually, projects sneak up on you, last minute papers and exams take up your time, etc.
My biggest form of anxiety in school was working extremely late hours as a server in a restaurant, only to come home to 5+ hours of homework. I had many sleepless nights just to make sure I completed assignments on time. Anxiety is bound to happen. However, proper discipline in time management and confiding in friends when you feel like you are drowning can make a huge difference. There are many different avenues, and you can learn to find your way.
Social Media Specialist