(While this post is directed toward incoming students from smaller high schools, the advice is for all incoming students.)
This post is for all you incoming students who are from a rural area and had a smaller sized graduating high school class. I am talking about schools in towns that don’t have a shopping mall or Walmart, and the only chain restaurant in town may be the local Pizza Hut. (If you even have that!) And the towns where when you run into the local ‘mom and pap’ grocery store in the winter season, you leave your car running AND unlocked so you don’t have to wait for it to warm up when you finish getting groceries.
I am personally from one of these rural towns. I am a proud 2011 graduate of Marion High School (Go Warriors!), where my graduating class was around 40 students. Marion is a town of about 1,800 people in which everybody knows everybody and there is not a single stoplight in all of Marion County. About 45% of the K-State student body is from towns or schools similar to this, where their high school graduating class was less than 200 students.
Trust me; it can be rather daunting attending a university of over 24,000 students, which is about 12 times bigger than your entire hometown. So here are just a few tips from a fellow small-town kid:
In smaller high schools, you sometimes feel like you are literally involved in everything. Not only are you on the volleyball, basketball, and track teams, but you are also involved in the school musical, choir, forensics, FCCLA, and Key Club. In college, however, you are probably not going to be able to be involved in as many activities. (At least, I’m not able to.) My suggestion is to initially find one to three clubs, organizations, or programs that you would really enjoy being a part of. Commit yourself to those for a semester and then evaluate if you can add more activities to your work load. Key tip here: Find organizations you are passionate about, and try not to over extend yourself too much.
It is very easy to become involved in a small high school, and it is the same way at K-State, but you may have to get outside of your comfort zone just a little bit. One of the biggest mistakes I personally made as a freshman was I that I was unwilling to do this. As a result, I probably missed out on some great opportunities my freshman year. So my tip here is to try something that may be a totally new experience for you. For me, that was becoming involved in a fraternity on campus.
While K-State is a large university, it is also a university that wants to get to know every one of our students. So, my final tip is to embrace the K-State Family. Meet new people in the organizations or living communities that you are a part of. Get to know your professors. You will quickly realize that you cannot walk across campus without seeing multiple people that you know.
If you are apprehensive about the transition from a smaller high school to K-State, just dedicate yourself to a couple of student organizations, be willing to step outside your comfort zone every once in a while, and get to know the amazing people on our campus. So, as you are prepare for your first college semester, keep these tips in mind. By doing so, Manhattan and K-State won’t feel like a “big” place, and instead they will feel like your new home.