If you’re anything like I was, and spent your high school years imagining venturing into the college lifestyle at a big university – NC State, UNC, or that other school we don’t speak of – then you can probably relate to the reservations I once had about choosing to go to a small, D3 school. I said before that I turned my nose up to the thought of an all girls school, which is absolutely true, but I was also turned off by the thought of going to a school with barely 2,000 students. I mean some of the high schools where I lived had more students than that. Why would you ever want to go somewhere so small? Well, just like every other lesson I learned at Meredith, you just have to experience it…
I was always very active in my classes growing up. Remember, I said I went to a small elementary and middle school, so there was no need to be shy when you were in class with the same group of 10-20 kids every day. When I went to my first class my freshman year at MC, I realized that’s how things were there too. My freshman psychology class was maybe 50 people, but aside from that, my classes were made up of 15-20 girls at the most, and then there were some that didn’t even have 10 girls in them. Those were the best! Actually, one of my favorite classes I ever took was Dr. Little’s Methods of Healthful Living course where we only had 6 girls. It was so much fun to come to class and have the opportunity to really participate and get to know each other. Because of this small number, we were able to build relationships and help each other become better learners. We would feed off of each other and motivate each other, plus we got to go outside and play like elementary school children, which gave us the opportunity to see that we all shared the love of the same thing – teaching. Or maybe we just loved getting to embrace our little kid side, but either way, it was the best! Just like in that class, in my other classes I was able to make some awesome friends and we were all resources for each other. I’ll never forget sneaking into SMB after hours and having late night study/cram sessions trying to prepare for Dr. Aubrecht’s Neuropsychology exams. We may have all been stressing out worse than we had ever stressed before, because let’s face it, that was the hardest class of my MC career, but at least we were in it together. It’s such a comforting feeling to know that you have a support system of classmates behind you that’s going to be there in times of struggle and excitement. That kind of system comes from a small school.
Then there’s the professors. I always heard my friends that went to State talking about how their classes were made up of hundreds of people and they could just not show up one day and no one would ever notice. If you skipped a class at Meredith without informing a classmate or your professor of your valid reasoning, you best believe either there was an email in your inbox by the time class was over, or they were questioning you at the next class meeting. Now some might say that’s rather obnoxious and annoying, maybe even a little unnecessary. I mean we’re all grown adults, we can make our own decisions and be responsible for them. Wrong. Let’s face it, we only thought we were responsible adults. We didn’t know anything yet. What you don’t think about when you’re getting ready to just skip class cause you don’t want to be there is that that’s not how the real world works. When you’re off and in the real world, you can’t just skip work because you don’t feel like going. That’s never going to work out for you…if it does, let me know how you figured it out, ha! It’s the little annoying things like this that actually add up to big things. It shows how much your professors truly care. Something I always tell people that was one of my favorite parts of Meredith, is that you’re a name not a number. Your professors know you. They care about you. They’re going to do everything they can to help you succeed both inside and outside the classroom. They are even going to be right there on the sidelines cheering you on at your sporting event, or in the audience of your performance. If you’re lucky, they’ll even show up to class dressed in crazy costumes. Take one of Dr. O’Dekirk’s classes and you’ll definitely get that experience. The professors you’ll encounter at Meredith are some of the best. They’re a support system like no other. They go out of their way to push you to success and make your experience at Meredith better than the college expereince you once imagined. It’s something you may not appreciate as much while you’re there, but looking back you’ll be trying to find words to express your appreciation and gratitude, but realize there are no words that can accurately describe just how thankful you are for them.
Then there’s the unexplainable things that I feel like only happen at a small school – like the nights spent hanging out, laughing around a bonfire in the courtyard with your big sis/lil sis class, or the tradition of painting the tunnel to the president’s house to depict the best four years of your life, or the apartment parties in the one and only on-campus apartment building that go from 4 girls socializing to the whole hall dancing the night away. It’s the little moments that you spend with your classmates that become memories you cherish forever. And when I say classmates, I really mean the entire class because at a small school like Meredith, you magically get to know everyone in your class over the four years. On any given day you can’t possibly walk from one building to another without running into multiple friends laughing and carrying on about last nights adventures. Or even if it’s just a wave across the courtyard, somehow you’re going to see someone you know everywhere you look. Some people are frightened by the thought of that, and being that small town girl that no one really knew, I was one of those people. It’s crazy to look back now and think about how that simple aspect of being a part of a small school completely changed me. I became someone people knew of even if they didn’t really know me. I mean I guess it could be because once upon a time my face ended up on the Meredith magazine and on other various advertisements around campus, but I like to think it’s because I was shaped into an outgoing, outspoken, person who wasn’t afraid to speak up or reach out to someone. In fact, I owe a lot of the qualities that make me who I am today to my years at Meredith, and those are qualities that came from being a name, not a number.
I could go on and on and on to tell you about the funny stories that happened in class, or in the dining hall, or even during various on-campus events, but my words could never be enough. I could never really persuade you that a small school is the best choice you’ll ever make…or maybe I could, I don’t know. But if you really want to know why a small school will give you the best four years of your life, you’ll just have to experience it.