The first-year experience

Image courtesy of Hannah Koehler.

As I write this, I have been on the Hill for a grand total of three weeks. Since orientation I have: made friends, written four essays, attended my first fraternity party, visited Downtown Kansas City, stayed up far later than I ever intended to, become a member of multiple campus organizations, gone home for a weekend, eaten half the food I brought with me, gone through my study playlist on Spotify several times, learned how to play poker and participated in an active shooter drill. How does this all happen in three weeks?

Welcome to the first-year experience.

As someone who has never left home for more than two weeks at a time, the concept of uprooting myself from my suburban Kansas community and attending a college half the size of my high school was rather daunting. Suddenly I am expected to be self-sufficient. 

I can stay up late in the lobby with friends if that’s something I really want to do. I can go to Liberty Square and study at Hammerhand if I need to get away from campus. There are so many options, so much freedom in college. This isn’t particularly unique to William Jewell College. Any college student can stay up late or go to a coffee shop, but I know for certain that it wouldn’t feel the same anywhere else.

Before I go to bed, I like to look at the Snapchat stories of my friends from high school. The majority of them went to the University of Kansas, the biggest public school in Kansas. They take a bus to get to their next class on the other side of campus.  Their classes consist of hundreds of students in one large lecture hall. While I know that many students like the lifestyle of living in a community that size, Jewell has a different kind of lifestyle. The community here, although smaller, is so much closer than I could have ever imagined.

I never walk anywhere alone here. I had this fear that campus would be deserted, or that I would never branch past the friends I made at Summer Fling. I’ve made friends with upperclassmen, something that was unheard of in my high school. My former friends in larger universities have hardly met anyone in a grade above them, let alone befriended them. 

I eat meals in the cafeteria with a different crowd every time. When I watch “Bachelor in Paradise” with the other first-years in my dorm, it’s with different people every time, yet we always have so much fun together. There are so many spontaneous gatherings around campus that it’s almost impossible to run into a group where you don’t know anyone. I’ve never run into a situation where I felt ostracized because there was no one I knew.

I am in CTI 100 and CTI 150 at the moment. I have never taken these kinds of courses before. For once, I am required to think outside of traditional classroom norms and step into how I can apply what I’ve learned to the world beyond the classroom. 

My thinking has already changed, and I’ve only been in class for three weeks. I firmly believe that these kinds of classes are what makes Jewell such a unique community to be part of. Because these classes promote critical thinking, I believe this is why Jewell students are so highly renowned in this country. 

My grandfather, who works in a bank in Oklahoma, works with several Jewell alumni. He maintains that they are some of the most open-minded individuals he has worked with. People like Bill Snyder, former Kansas State University football coach; Robin Carnahan, former Missouri Secretary of State; Zel Fischer, a judge on the Missouri Supreme Court; Terry Teachout, a famous author; and Tom Coleman, a member of the House of Representatives in Congress, are all making waves in our country as William Jewell alumni. 

I truly believe that all of us have the ability to become as notable and successful as these people with the unique experiences that William Jewell has to offer us.

These are the reasons why I chose William Jewell. I am confident that William Jewell will prepare me for the future in ways that no other college or university could offer. I am so glad to be able to share this experience with every student here, and I know that we will go on to do amazing, wonderful things in our community and abroad.

Jenna Hultgren

Jenna Hultgren is the page editor for Perspectives on The Hilltop Monitor. She is a sophomore majoring in English.

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