College is more than high school 2.0

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Leaving my comfort zone was the best thing to ever happen to me.

I graduated from high school with 68 others in May 2015. As my classmates and I walked the stage after receiving our diploma, I realized I had known the majority of them since the first day of kindergarten. We had grown up together, from elementary to high school. So, when I chose to attend a college out of state, a lot of people questioned my decision.

Many told me they worried I would miss home and transfer back after my first semester, but I personally looked forward to attending a school where I did not know a single person.

After talking to my former classmates about their college experiences, I soon realized none of them felt the same way as I did upon arrival at Oklahoma Christian. They missed high school and few had made any lasting friendships during their first months away from home. After seeing this with every group of high school graduates from my hometown, I now believe coming from a small town tends to make the college experience and leaving home a particularly trying time.

One of the disadvantages I notice from living in a small town is the difficulty of forming new relationships later in life. When one makes their friends at the age of five and has those people in every class until they are 18, the skill to build new relationships is never acquired. These students are then in for a rude awakening when they move off to college and realize they don’t know how to connect with new people.

Because of this, many students from small towns choose the closest campus to home, where they can come home on the weekends or live with some of their high school classmates. The thought of attending a distant university with thousands of students and is several times larger than their entire hometown, is just too overwhelming for most small town students.

So they instead choose an extension of high school to last them another four years.

This is a misfortunate problem causing many to miss out on so many life experiences.

Now, do not get me wrong; there are many positives to growing up in a small town. There is something to be said for everyone knowing everyone, having the entire town support you in your endeavors and the feeling of always being accepted. But one also has to keep in mind that limiting yourself to only your small town and childhood friends makes you miss out on a lot of different experiences and people.

While I would not give up my small town upbringing, I also do not regret being the only student in my graduating class to attend college outside of Texas. It has helped me grow in ways I did not dream possible and has given me some of my closest friends and fondest memories. For small town folks like me, I encourage you to broaden your horizons and take in the rest of the world. I promise high school is not the best four years of your life and there is a lot to offer outside the 4.5-square-miles where you were raised.

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