Hey y’all! Today I am back with a more personal – and highly requested – blog post. You may or may not know that I am in fact a college student. As much as I talk about it, people don’t seem to realize I am only 21 and I am going into my senior year of college. Today I am going to be sharing with y’all a little bit about my college experience, and more importantly my experience with online university.
I am planning to also make a YouTube video about this in the near future that will probably be more in depth. So if you aren’t already, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel so you don’t miss out! And be sure to check out my other videos as well.
For starters I want to make a few things clear.
1) I did not initially start college online. I did in fact have the “normal” college experience, lived in a dorm, etc.
2) I do not recommend online schooling for everyone. It is not for the majority of people.
3) I can only speak for my experience, not for others.
I want to start from the beginning of my “college career.” In fact, let’s start with the college application process as well as my prior education. So… in high school I had spent my first 2 years (9th & 10th grade) at the public school I had attended Junior High at. I spent pre-K – 6th grade at a private Christian school, but made the decision to switch to public education after. In 10th grade I had gotten sick with something doctors originally could not diagnose me for (and the school was less than helpful), so my parents decided to switch me to private school for my last two years of high school (11th & 12th grade) so we could have more flexibility and understanding on the school’s end. I excelled at my new school and it really challenged me in a way public school did not offer to me; I had been in “enrichment”/”accelerated”/”honors” courses since my elementary school had offered them in the 3rd grade. Plus, this new school allowed me to get college in high school credits, which are different than AP classes (where you have to “test out” at the end of the course and hope for the best).
When it came to applying for colleges I somewhat knew what I wanted. I definitely wanted to be at a bigger school, I wanted the school to have a good sports program since I loved college football, I did not want to be in the Pittsburgh area, and I wanted them to offer the major I wanted – nutritional science. I didn’t apply to a TON of schools, but I applied to a good amount. Some I applied to knowing I’d never go to, since they didn’t meet my criteria, but I applied anyway knowing they’d offer me a scholarship (Robert Morris University, Palm Beach Atlantic University, Carlow University, and Saint Vincent College). My main contenders were Clemson University, Penn State University, and Ohio State University.
If there is one thing I learned from the college admissions process it’s that public colleges do not like private school kids lol. Almost everyone in my class of 50 students applied to Penn State and only 2 got into Main Campus, meanwhile DOZENS of kids I knew from my public school got in. And no offense to them, the majority of the kids I graduated with had better grades, test scores, etc. But that’s a whole different discussion…
After much deliberation I eventually decided on Penn State for a few reasons; my dad’s whole family is legacy (which clearly didn’t even matter because I didn’t get into Main Campus despite having a 1600 on the SAT and 4.0 GPA), I felt at home there, they had the major I wanted, and it was far enough from home but not so far that it’s inconvenient for me to go back and forth if needed. I ended up rooming with my best friend from high school at the Altoona campus, which is the closest campus to Main and it’s a pretty desirable campus to be at.
My first semester was great! I was rooming with my best friend, I was taking classes I enjoyed, I was going to football games, I was a part of the dance company, and I even rushed for a sorority. But part of me was torn at the same time. I knew I had always wanted to go AWAY for school, and I didn’t. Plus I was driving home almost every weekend to see Grant because he was the only person that knew I was unhappy, which just made it a stressful and chaotic situation overall. After talking to Grant, my parents, and my guidance counselor for a few weeks I decided to transfer to a campus in Pittsburgh for the time being so I could decide what I wanted and get my life together.
Fast forward through that miserable semester, and Grant and I finally came to the conclusion that I was going to reapply for 2 out of state schools I had originally been accepted to my first semester. And wherever I was accepted we decided we were going to move. This was a CRAZY step for our relationship and for us as people. After all, I was only 19 and we had only been dating for around a year. I DO NOT ENDORSE THIS AT ALL, but thankfully in our situation it worked out and we had no ill feelings about it in the process.
So that summer we packed up and moved to Florida. I started at the new school in Fall 2017 (I’m not going to name the school because I don’t want to be sued but if you’ve followed me for a while you probably know or you can use context clues). The one thing I instantly noticed from this school is how controlling it was over their students. There were really strange rules like a dress code (like short shorts weren’t allowed?), they required therapy if you were in a certain situation like getting married or you were pregnant, and not to even mention the classes and professors reminded me much more of a high school environment than college. Overall, it was weird but I just rolled with it because I didn’t really have a choice lol.
A week or two into classes starting we got word that a hurricane was coming. Of course I move to Florida from Pennsylvania and one month in there’s a hurricane. In case you didn’t assume already, I have ZERO EXPERIENCE with hurricanes. So we just basically did what everyone told us to do; get water, food, and gas. We weren’t really sure where, when, or how hard it was going to hit, so we were somewhat playing it by ear…? We just knew we didn’t want to stay in the area since we were only a few miles from the coast. So after talking to my parents we all decided it would be best if we went to Disney to stay at a hotel since they most likely wouldn’t lose power. The school was shutting down that Thursday and some teachers were assigning homework since we’d be gone at least a week. We ended up leaving Wednesday for safety purposes and before leaving my one professor told us to forget about the week’s worth of homework she assigned and to just be safe.
Hurricane Irma does her worst, and we thankfully were safe and sound. Going back to class that next week is basically when everything fell apart and I knew I had to peace out. After a lot of tears, nerves, and anxiety thanks to this school I needed to find a way out. Parents weekend was coming up and I knew my parents were coming down. Now I just needed to find the words to tell them that I had to leave this school. Let me just be clear. I am a VERY hard worker. I am a great student, very well rounded, and I am very organized and on time with everything I do. Very Type A if you will. I literally would come home EVERY DAY and cry about school. I was so incredibly miserable, it wasn’t even funny. It was such a dark time and place for me. Despite getting the OK and the support to leave from my parents, I then felt like such a loser. How does an honors student DROP OUT of college? How did Type A Jayme let this happen to herself? I felt so dark and so alone.
I knew I wanted and NEEDED to go back to school, I just didn’t know how. So in the mean time I got a job and started working so I was at least doing something. I couldn’t sit around when I had just moved 1,000 miles to be here! So, for the next few months I worked and thought about my comeback.
I finally landed on the idea of just going back to school and doing it online. I was hesitant. Isn’t online school for 40 year old housewives who want to better themselves? Or for teachers earning their Masters degree? I wasn’t completely sold, but I also didn’t want to move back home. And let me tell you, I am SO HAPPY I made that choice. Thankfully I had dropped out in October and went back in January, so I was only one semester behind.
Online school has helped me in so many ways. It’s helped me manage the stress that comes with school. It helps me manage my time how I want to manage it. And it helps me to live my life however I’d like, while still earning my degree. People always ask me if online school is hard, which is a tough question to answer because it truly depends on the person. For me, personally, it is easier. I am not a person who can focus in a 2 hour lecture. I am not good at taking notes in a lecture. And I have TERRIBLE test anxiety and major ADHD. I’m kind of a mess. However, I AM a person who is self-motivated. I am organized. I know where my priorities are. And I don’t slack when it comes to school.
Online school definitely is not for everyone. It has both pros and cons, but it is probably the best choice I’ve ever made for myself, and I encourage other people to look into it if it’s something they’re interested in. At this time I am planning to get my Masters degree online as well after I complete my Bachelors in Health Administration and Policy. And if you’re curious I do school through Penn State University, just online. I’ve personally have had a great experience with the program itself and the professors – I don’t have any horror stories yet lol.
I am thinking I’ll do a few more posts about my online college experience, possibly covering the pros and cons, or my tips and tricks for how I get everything done! In the meantime let me know if y’all have any other questions. Feel free to comment below, or if you want to talk in a more private setting, DM me on Instagram or shoot me an email!
I know this was a long and rambling post, so thanks for reading to the end!