This article was originally written for FirstGenerationStudent.com, now a part of ImFirst.org.
My high school was a small school that contained grades seven through 12. Everyone knew everybody and people knew your business even before you did; but, I loved it. I was a four-year starter on both the varsity basketball and volleyball teams and even accomplished my high school dream of winning a volleyball state championship my senior year; I also broke two school records for serving. I had my best friends from kindergarten by my side, my boyfriend, whom I started dating as a sophomore, plus a wonderful, loving and supportive family: I should have been the happiest senior out there. However, the thought of leaving my small hometown and my tight-knit family scared me.
I had gone on tours to numerous colleges but found something wrong with every single one–until I came to Merrimack. Merrimack College is a small school where you know just about everyone who walks by you as you go to class. It reminded me of my high school. It was a small, tight-knit community and, most importantly, I wouldn’t just be a face to my professors; they would know my name and I would develop friendships with them. Not only did I choose to attend Merrimack, but so did my boyfriend, Marcus, who plays on the basketball team. Everything seemed great: I was starting a new chapter in life, I was only an hour and a half away from home and I had my boyfriend with me.
August had come and some of my friends had already left for school excited and happy to start this new chapter in their lives; however, I was sad. I didn’t want to leave home and I missed my friends, but knew I had to go. Move-in day came and I begged my parents and sister to stay as long as possible. When it was time for them to leave, I gave quick hugs and kisses and walked back to my dorm with Marcus with tears streaming down my cheeks. I was placed in a forced triple room, and one of my roommates was an international student who didn’t understand me; I also got the top bunk. I am 5 feet 8 inches tall, and needless to say I could not sit up straight in bed. I was miserable.
Classes started and I just could not make myself happy. I hadn’t met any friends other than one of my roommates. I was shy and couldn’t get myself to come out of my shell.
I became very depressed and would call my mom every single day, crying and begging her to come and get me, let me transfer … anything to get me out of there. This became a daily occurrence, even with the comfort of my boyfriend of three years at school with me. There were numerous weekends that my sister and brother-in-law came and stayed in a hotel just to comfort me and take me out to dinner, numerous times that I begged my parents to come and spend the day with me. My time at Merrimack just was not getting better. I had been placed on anxiety and anti-depression medicine and still had only a few friends.
My first semester of college went by and I managed to maintain my grades, earning straight A’s. My time at school was getting a little better; however; the comfort of my own home, family and friends for the next two months was exactly what I needed.
Over Christmas break I did a lot of thinking. Why am I so sad? I see my family very often and don’t live far from home. By this point my international student roommate had moved out, so I lived in a normal double were I could comfortably sit up in my bed, which was now on the floor; I had my boyfriend at school with me and was getting good grades. Something clicked in my head: Why should I stay miserable at a place where I will be basically living for the next four years? Why not put myself out there, make new friends and have a positive college experience? This is just what I did. When my parents brought me back from Christmas break (this time no tears were shed), I put myself out there and tried to get to know everyone on my floor; eventually, I made some of the best friends.
I Love College!
Transition from high school to college is a huge step for anybody, especially someone who comes from a small town and school and was a big fish in a little sea. College is just the opposite: I became a little fish in a big sea, but that’s okay. I have made many new friends who I know could not picture my life without; I have joined new groups and played intramural sports. Most importantly, I have learned to love college–not just any college … Merrimack College.