During my last semester of high school nearly four years ago, I was dead set on attending Florida State. I had my roommate picked out, and paid my deposit for our summer dorm room. I was anxiously waiting for the time where I would be able to rush, go to all the football games/tailgates, and do the plethora of other exciting things that would be sure to happen in Tallahassee with all of my closest friends.
Then things changed.
I had an unforeseen opportunity to play lacrosse at a Division II school in a small town in South Carolina. I can still remember touring Coker College with my best friend (Hey, Dan!) and being in shock that we had driven nearly eight hours to what appeared to be a town located between two cotton fields. Nevertheless, we decided that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, that we would try it out, and if we hated it after two years, we’d transfer.
My parents weren’t thrilled with the idea, and I still think to this day my mom believes that it wasn’t the right choice for me. I heard multiple times that I would regret going to a college that was literally half of the size of my high school. That I wouldn’t get the same experience and networking opportunities that my friends who were going to FSU, UF, or UCF would. That a school in rural South Carolina wouldn’t offer nearly the amount of diversity that I was accustomed to while living in Central Florida.
They were wrong.
While I’m no mathematician, I think being 1 out of 1,200 students is a lot better than 1 out of, say, 40,000? I was somebody at Coker. I felt like I could make a difference, and the faculty, staff, and my peers made sure that everyone felt that way. Along with being a student-athlete, I was involved with multiple organizations and often held leadership positions within them. The President of our college actually knew my name, and even gave me a shout out during our commencement ceremony (which is something I will never forget, so thanks, Dr. Wyatt!).
Diversity in rural South Carolina wasn’t an issue either. Albeit Coker College is not the most diverse higher education institution, students are required to study abroad. And even better, students are often given scholarships and funding opportunities in order to do so. So, while I was not immersed in the amount of diversity one would typically find in Orlando, I was exposed to not only a rural (read: complete opposite of what I was used to) area and a variety of international students from all over the world, but I actually had the opportunity to live in a foreign country (!!!) thanks to my small, private college.
If that isn’t enough, the small (read: roughly 5 students per class) English classes I was able to take at Coker influenced a new-found interest in writing. Such small classes led to personal relationships with professors, which in turn led to my decision to pursue a graduate degree in English. Because these close-knit relationships existed throughout my duration at Coker, I am a more confident individual, have a better grasp on both my strengths and weaknesses as a student, and know that I will always have mentors to rely on should I need it.
Like most students, I still often question whether the college I chose was the “right decision” for me; however, I am confident in the woman who graduated just a few short months ago with a fresh outlook on the world and a thirst for knowledge—all of which would not have been possible if it weren’t for Coker. So no, you won’t regret going to a small college. If anything, it will be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll have because you’ll get the opportunity to be somebody.