From Boarding School to College: Getting By With the Help of My New Friends

The transition from a private boarding school to college was much different from what I expected it to be. (I’m on the left in the photo.)

I attended Christchurch School in Saluda, Virginia, for all four years of high school, and I expected my initial time at Longwood to be exactly the same as when I was a freshman there—but that hasn’t been the case.

So far, being at Longwood has been an emotional time for me, with feelings of excitement, nervousness and many others. 

In 2014, I was a kid from the city going off to a school an hour away from home. It was the first time I’d been away from home for an extended period, and I have to say that it was a scary moment in my young life. I was the only one from my middle school to go there, and I didn’t know what to expect.

Even though it was hard, that first year of high school was very beneficial to my maturity and character. Throughout the years at Christchurch, I continued to grow, learning how to manage my time, how to live with someone and many other skills.

However, there is a difference between college and boarding school. I’m adjusting—but I’m still trying to figure everything out. This learning period has been fun, effective and efficient thanks to New Lancer Days and the help of the community that I knew was going to be here for me.

I am so glad that people are friendly and will make sure you aren’t lost. On top of this I have met so many people who are easy to talk to—many of them from the area where I live in Richmond, which has made me feel even more comfortable.

I was worried about making the transition to college despite my high-school experience, but it has been a lot better than I expected. I am so ready to see what the year is going to bring. I can’t wait see everything this campus has to offer, and I am ready to experience everything this year with open arms. 

Emotions and Hunger Pangs

Over the past few days I have felt many emotions. Here are a few:

  • Sadness over leaving my pets behind (and my family, of course, but they know where I am and how to work a phone)
  • Excitement about what’s to come
  • Nervousness about the first day of classes

But let me tell you one continuous feeling I have had this whole college experience so far. Hunger. I truly don’t think I have ever wanted real food more in my life.

Kira swipes in for a meal at D-Hall.

What I miss most about the food at home is a restaurant called Don Pepe—where my favorite dish is the shrimp chimichangas!—and just a home-cooked meal. I especially miss the huge brunch my dad makes every Sunday after church.

Sure, we have D-Hall, but let’s be honest here—it’s D-Hall food. Although, if you ever get a chance to try the tortellini and the grilled cheese, you won’t be too disappointed. I should know. I have had both for lunch and dinner more than once already.

An Impulsive Choice Was the Right Choice: I Found the Perfect College

I wouldn’t exactly say I chose Longwood.

I’m a first-generation college student, so college seemed like a stretch. I wasn’t sure of even the simplest of things—like how to apply.

Because of that, I initially committed to the University of Lynchburg because they were the first college to contact me—even though I’d never heard of that school before. I attended a scholarship award ceremony (they gave me a $27,000 scholarship), and I loved the campus.

Abbie (left) and her roommate, Karina, at the main entrance to campus.

A few months went by, and people I knew were being accepted to their dream schools—but it didn’t feel the same for me. I procrastinated about applying to other schools and filling out my mandatory Lynchburg paperwork because I simply didn’t know what I truly wanted from college.

I had heard about Longwood and decided to apply. I was accepted, so now I had two options. Still nothing felt right for me. Then came the FAFSA deadline, which meant I had to make a last-minute decision. Impulsively, I cancelled my commitment to Lynchburg and committed to Longwood before I even stepped foot on campus.

I had no reason behind my choice to switch to Longwood. My process of choosing my college was very confusing, and the worries of, “What if I chose the wrong college?” never stopped until move-in day.

I am now at Longwood, and I have no doubt that I chose the perfect place for me. I’m thankful that my impulsive, unknowledgeable choices led me to where I truly feel I belong.

A Short Goodbye to the Best Year of My Life

Wow … so freshman year is really over. This has been a wild ride and easily the best year of my life.  With all of the new friends I’ve met and the endless memories I’ve made, I couldn’t think of a better year. Of course, there were ups and downs, but I think that’s what makes a time good.

One of the biggest downs was the most dangerous injury I’ve had, which was a meniscus tear. I could’ve taken this as the worst thing because I wasn’t able to play basketball. Instead I met two very important people in my life: my roommate for next year, Kyle, and my amazing girlfriend, Kayli (I know it’s cliché, but true).

Daniel and his girlfriend, Kayli

I guess I have two big takeaways for others. The first is that college is really not that difficult—you just need to know how to self-regulate and manage your time.

The other is much more standard, but it has truly made my experience and life better. It’s that life will not be perfect. Things will go wrong, but it’s not about how bad you think it is. It’s about how you handle it. I hope that if or when even something small goes wrong, you’ll handle it with a good attitude and do everything you can to find the good in the situation. As it’s often said, everything will work out in the end.

Daniel Easter

Major: Liberal Studies
Likes: Basketball, Music
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Take My Advice: A Few Wise Words for Next Year’s Freshmen

I asked my friend Nick what advice he would give new freshmen. He replied,  “The most important thing to remember is do not be a sheep and think for yourself.”

If I could give advice to future freshmen, this is what I would say.

*Go to office hours, go to office hours, go to office hours! Your professors really want to help you and see you succeed.
*Go to the library. Dorm rooms are full of noise and distraction.
*Get involved!
*When you go to D-hall, don’t be afraid to sit with someone new—especially during the first few weeks of school. It is good to talk to new people.
*If/when you get homesick, call your family and friends!! Everyone gets homesick. It’s normal if this is the first time you have been away from home and on your own!
*Learn how to manage your time.
*Buy a planner, and write everything down.
*Read your course syllabi.
*During the first week of classes, find out where your professors’ offices are located, and go meet them in person. Find out when their office hours are scheduled.
*Don’t be afraid to do things by yourself.
*Make it a point to know people in your class so you can create study groups.
*Make time for yourself: Read a fun book, go to the gym, take a break from social media, buy a devotional.
*Go on Lancerlink to look up clubs.
*Go to Lancer Productions events and other campus activities.
*Create a routine, and have a regular sleep schedule.
*Do not procrastinate! Deadlines and exams come up fast. Don’t cram—study a week ahead of time, and study a little each day.
*Use Quizlet. It is a lifesaver!
*Start assignments when they are assigned.
*One day at a time.
*Take classes that interest you.
*Check your email daily. Download the Canvas app.
*Clean your room or at least make your bed every day. It’ll make going to bed more comfortable, and you can concentrate more on homework.
*Make time to do fun things.
*Don’t spread yourself too thin—don’t join too many clubs or organizations.
*Go to Pairet’s. You can customize what you want, and it’s way less expensive.
* Go to the Writing Center, and go to tutoring.
*Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
*Go to the CHI walks.
*Open and read your textbooks. Just because your professor doesn’t cover it in class doesn’t mean you won’t be tested on it.
*Take risks. You just might get that position that you apply and interview for.
*Work hard and stay positive.

College is a time full of new adventures. It’s a time to find yourself, to make friendships, try new things and learn. Enjoy it—this first year flies by.

Brooklynn Weissenfluh

Major: Communication Sciences & Disorders
Likes: Painting
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My Life As A Freshman: A Look Back

As I write this, a million different memories are flowing through my head.

I remember like it was yesterday getting my room set up and saying goodbye to my parents with tear-filled eyes as they left me in my dorm room. Slowly Longwood became my second home.

I am so blessed to have met so many cool people. The friendships and relationships I have made here are awesome. As I got more involved in campus organizations, I felt more at home. I am so thankful for all the opportunities and memories this great little place has given me.

As freshman year is done in 10 days, I am not ready to leave all my friends that I have made here. I know it sounds so cliché, but time flies when you are having fun. It has been such a great first-year experience, and I can’t picture myself being anywhere else but Longwood.

I am so happy here. I am having fun, making great friendships, working hard and—most of all— learning, learning a lot. I am so happy I chose Longwood.

I couldn’t have done it without the support of my amazing parents, family, friends, my awesome professors, the Writing Center and tutoring. The resources here are endless.

One thing that stands out to me the most about this freshman year is taking risks. My advice for next year’s freshmen? Go for it. It  just might change your life for the better. 🙂 College is hard, but it’s also really fun if you’ll let it be.

Experiencing Longwood’s special traditions really made me appreciate this school even more. As a freshman, it’s a great feeling to see the amazing spirit and excitement for these special events firsthand: the Honor and Integrity Ceremony, CHI walks, First Friday Back, The G.A.M.E., Color Wars, Oktoberfest, the holiday tree lighting, Spring Weekend, pig roast and the CHI burning. These traditions are really what makes Longwood such a special and unique school.

Members of CHI are revealed each year at the CHI burning. CHI, one of Longwood’s secret societies, works to spread the spirit of Longwood throughout campus.

Brooklynn Weissenfluh

Major: Communication Sciences & Disorders
Likes: Painting
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Spring Weekend and Longwood Lions

Spring weekend was a fun way to de-stress from the never-ending papers, projects and tests that come at the end of the semester.  Anna Clendening, A Thousand Horses, Young Gravy and We the Kings performed. They were all really great. Oozeball was fun to watch, and all the booths were really cool to look at—just like at Oktoberfest.

Student organizations set up fundraising booths during Spring Weekend.
Oozeball is volleyball played in the mud. Students form teams and compete against each other.

Longwood Lions is officially chartered at Longwood as a student organization. I had the honor of attending the initiation and pinning ceremony. It is a service organization that does work within the community but also contributes worldwide. Some very important people were there, including Longwood university President W. Taylor Reveley IV and the mayor of Farmville. The Farmville Lions Club is excited to have new people in Lions, and having a chapter on the Longwood campus will help the bring the college and community closer. Since we are new to campus, we want to grow our organization. The mission statement of the Lions Club is to empower volunteers to serve their communities, meet humanitarian needs, encourage peace and promote international understanding.

Brooklynn Weissenfluh

Major: Communication Sciences & Disorders
Likes: Painting
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Thanks for the Memories: A Recap of My Freshman Year

Wow. My freshman year of college is quickly coming to an end. It’s really hard for me to believe that my first year of college is practically over. As I am writing this, exams start next week and then I move out. That is so crazy to me.

When I think about everything I have seen, experienced and overcome during my first year of college, my mind is overflowing with memories and emotions. There are so many things I have done over the past couple of months that it’s hard to remember and name them all. However, I will try my best to do so.

When I first got to college I lived with a roommate and two suitemates. In my previous journals, I mentioned I am an only child and that the thought of living with other people really freaked me out. I think I even wrote a whole journal about it—be sure to look back and read it. Anyway, living with my roommate and suitemates was definitely a unique experience, but after the first semester, I knew I wanted to live alone. Through many emails, meetings and a lot of hope, I managed to get my own room. This was the first time I have ever lived alone in my life. Living alone took some getting used to, but I can confidently say I love it and think I made the right decision for me.

Speaking of making difficult decisions, that is also something I faced during my freshman year.  Because I was basically living on my own, I was making all of own decisions all of the time. At first, I didn’t really know how to handle it, but I quickly learned I loved being in charge of myself. In college you have the power to make all of your own choices. Whether you succeed or fail is up to you and no one else.

This is something I love about college. I love being independent and proactive, and taking charge of my own education. I knew everything was up to me, so I wanted to try my best to do everything right. People always called me a “try hard,” so when I got to college, I decided to embrace it. Being a try hard worked for me during my first year of college. I was invited to join numerous honor societies, received a scholarship within my major and was recognized by Phi Kappa Phi for being in the top 1 percent of my class for my grades during the fall semester (I got a 4.0 GPA).

I’m not mentioning these things to brag about my accomplishments (though I am proud of them) but more to serve as motivation for prospective students who may read this. Working hard really does pay off in the long run. Sometimes it is hard to see when you feel like you have a million assignments due all in one week, but just do your best in everything and things will work out.

During my freshman year, I also learned a lot about myself, my passions and other people. As I mentioned before, I learned that I love being independent. I like making my own decisions and interpreting things in my own way. I really don’t like being told what to do. I like having guidance and pointers, but when it comes to working on something, I like to do it my own way. However, I also love learning, which is obviously an important aspect of college.

I have also realized my passion for writing. In high school, I only wrote academically (like research papers), which is very boring to me. It wasn’t until I got to college and began taking other writing courses that I realized how much I really enjoy it. I like writing about my own experiences and giving my viewpoint on things, like I do for this blog, and being a part of the Odyssey (a writing club on campus). But I also enjoy the media style of writing and listening to people’s stories and writing about their experiences. There is so much you can do and say in writing. I think it is one of the best forms of expression.

Lastly, I not only learned about myself but about other people as well. I learned that making friends can be hard and that it takes time. I also learned that it is OK to be alone and to feel comfortable being your own company. Over the course of my first year of college, I can honestly say I have made some true friends. I met people I could talk to, and I knew they would actually listen and care about what I was saying. Finding true friends is so important in college. It’s easy to put friendships in the back of your mind and only focus on assignments. Trust me I know—I did this a lot during my first semester. However, I learned that having some true friends is really important. Making yourself talk to new people can be hard, but I encourage you to do it anyway because the friendships you make in college have a huge impact on your overall experience.

As you can probably see, I learned a lot during my freshman year of college. The crazy thing is, I didn’t even mention everything. I would have to write a book to include every single thing I learned, experienced or just witnessed.

Going to college has given me more opportunities than I could have ever dreamed of. There are so many things I know I would not done if I had decided not to attend Longwood. I am truly grateful for everything I have learned and accomplished during my freshman year.

And it all started with My Life As A Freshman. I guess you could say it was the first club or organization that I became involved in at Longwood. I owe a lot of my growth and successes to this organization. If I weren’t in My Life As A Freshman, a story I wrote most likely would not have ended up in the alumni magazine. I am truly thankful for being able to be a part of the first My Life As A Freshman group, and the experiences and friendships I have formed because of it mean so much to me. Thank you.

Heather Waldo

Major: Communications
Likes: Photography
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Managing Your Mental Health at College: Don’t Despair—Help Is Available

Everyone likes to talk about the fun and the laughs at college, but no one really wants to talk about the deeper issues. Mental health has always had a stigma, and, despite how far we have come, it is still something that is whispered about among family and very good friends.

But let’s face it: College is hard work and a huge adjustment. Having the tools and the support is the key not only to being physically healthy but also mentally healthy. Because not all of us really think about our mental health. Sometimes it begins to creep in when you realize that you may have taken too many hours or signed up for a super hard class that at the time seemed like a really great idea. Or it might rear its ugly head during midterms or final exams, and none of us really knows it’s there, sitting on our shoulder.

Recently I found myself needing a little extra help. I realized that I wasn’t super woman. Little did I know that Longwood has an entire school of experts just waiting to help us. Young adults, probably more than any other demographic, seem to think they can do it all and that asking for help is a flaw.  But sometimes asking opens up an entirely new world that we didn’t even know existed.

Did you know that the Dean of Students Office manages something called the Care Team here on campus that is made up of professionals from departments across the campus? Did you know that students who are studying psychology and social services act as interns to learn firsthand the needs of their fellow students? Did you know that they are available 24/7 and are just a phone call away?

I didn’t!!!

Whether it be depression, anxiety, stress or even a problem with your roommate, there is ALWAYS someone that will listen. No judging, no lecturing, no shaming—just help. Let’s face it, sometimes all of us just need a little extra help.

Finally, for you parents reading this, did you know that you can call the Care Team if you are worried about your student?

It could be that you haven’t heard from them or they won’t return your calls. Or perhaps you have an idea that there might be something going on. The Care Team will reach out and never let on that you called. It may be a professor or an RA or even someone from the Care Team, but they will never give away your secret!

Because remember, we still want to think that we’re grown up and that we don’t need anyone’s help. But deep down inside, sometimes we really do!

Bella Silvus

Major: Special Education
Likes: Art, Hula Hooping
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Painting with a Pro: My Close Encounter with a Professional Artist

Have you ever had the opportunity to learn how to paint from a professional artist? With the help of Professor Alex Grabiec, a faculty scholar in the Cormier Honors College and the curator for the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts, I am proud to say that I got this opportunity.

Professor Grabiec knows professional artist Morgan Everheart personally and was part of the team that brought some of her work to the LCVA for an exhibition this semester.

Artist Morgan Everheart, whose paintings were exhibited at the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts this semester, conducted a painting workshop and tour of the exhibition for students in the Cormier Honors College.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Morgan agreed to host a paint night for the members of the Honors College. Meeting Morgan was an eye-opening experience. Actually being able to hear an artist’s thought process is truly special. (I had the opportunity to see Morgan’s artwork twice—the second time was when she gave my classmates and me a mini tour of the exhibition, explaining the process of creating some of her pieces and the meaning behind them.)

I had been to other paint nights where the instructor told everyone to do the same exact thing and everyone’s paintings looked very similar. Luckily, that wasn’t how Morgan chose to conduct her session.

She first told us to paint how we feel—meaning we could paint anything we wanted. Most of my peers painted a simple background. I was one of the only people who decided to paint a face. This didn’t bother me because I enjoy being the oddball.

She then told us to paint all of the greenery in the flowers on our tables. (It’s important to note that Morgan’s exhibition at the LCVA was comprised primarily of floral-themed paintings.) We finished up by painting the brightest colors in the bouquets on the table.

Heather’s friends Jason and Cecily also participated in the painting workshop.

Morgan also told us to take breaks in between painting different elements to do various activities. One of the activities was to introduce yourself to someone you didn’t know and talk about your painting. We did this two to three times throughout the session, performing different tasks. That was something new to me. I had never been to a paint night where the instructor told you to get up and talk to the people around you. I enjoyed it.

Overall, I had a very fun time. I really liked being able to paint with my friends, meet new people, learn techniques from a professional and eat pizza. It was evident from my painting that trying to depict flowers is not my strong suit—but I still had fun.

The painting I created actually wasn’t my favorite part of the experience. What I will remember most is meeting an artist and being able to talk to her and find out how and why she paints.

Heather Waldo

Major: Communications
Likes: Photography
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