The bell rings as dozens of doors open and halls are filled with crowds of fresh faced students carrying bright colored notebooks and folders, searching for their next class. The new school year has begun and it has been quite a transition for thousands of teens across the country who are beginning the next chapter of their lives, college.
Bettendorf High School’s class of 2016 recently graduated in May, and many of these students moved on to a community college or university to continue their education. Some class members decided to find jobs after receiving their diplomas while others joined branches of the military. For a student accustomed to living in the Quad City area and attending a local high school of about 1,400 students, moving to a big university away from home can be a scary experience.
Former Bulldog Rachel Gist is now attending Taylor University in Indiana. According to Gist, she is very happy that she was able to go to Taylor University and is excited for the rest of the school year.
“Taylor University is very focused on community, so I have already had the opportunity to meet a ton of awesome people. It is really important to choose a college that you love and put yourself out there. Make new friends because there are so many incredible people to meet,” Gist said.
For other students, including a freshman at Southwest Minnesota State University, Emily Jasper, college has not been such an easy start.
“It’s already three weeks into the term, and my only friend is someone I knew from Bettendorf High School and also my roommate. The food is terrible, and I miss my friends back home. I will probably end up transferring because this is not the right school for me,” Jasper said.
According to the both of them, college classes are much more strenuous and require that students put in as much effort as possible to maintain a good grade. Lots of reading and note taking is essential for success.
Bettendorf graduate and student athlete DoniRae Mayhew is getting her first taste of adulthood while living in a dorm on campus at Kirkwood College.
“You don’t have anybody to hold your hand anymore. You have to do everything yourself. Take notes, get help if you need it, and do a lot of studying. The teachers don’t walk you through the material like they do in high school. In math classes they expect you to know it, and they will only touch on things briefly. It is your job to teach yourself and make sure you understand because you can’t ask questions. There is no one to help you remember due dates, everything is up to you,” Mayhew said.
Another big difference between high school and college is the plethora of different clubs and activities available for students.
“I am planning on doing intramurals once those start and here they have a ‘Taylathon’ which is like a bike race, I’m excited to do that. I am still looking for other clubs I can join,” Gist said.
Mayhew is a softball player for the Kirkwood Eagles. She plans on “putting herself out there” more next year once she has figured out what she wants to continue studying.
“I am the president of my dorm hall, and I am also involved in Criminal Justice Club,” Jasper said.
College is a time for exploration, according to these three students, high school really does seem to be a quick four years, and it is important to enjoy each moment while it lasts.
“Go to all of the school events, you will regret not going later. Leave drama with people behind, just be friends because life goes by too fast, and life's too short to hold grudges and dislike people. Practice getting a planner and start developing a lot of good study habits, because in college in order to succeed you have to spend at least two hours studying for every hour that you have class,” Mayhew said.
The school year has only just begun and the students will soon be crossing over the path into adulthood. As Mayhew said, it is important for them to treasure each moment and make good decisions with their new freedom.