If you’re anything like me, you currently have a list of about ten colleges you’re interested in and you have no idea which one to choose. Maybe you’ve even toured half of them and applied to a few. You might feel some pressure to go to the school your parents went to, or even to go to the school with a low acceptance rate just to prove you got in. When I was looking at colleges to apply to, I definitely had no idea where I wanted to go. I didn’t grow up rooting for a particular college team and I didn’t really have a dream school in mind. I ended up touring eight different schools and applying to seven. I had a lot of options. So how did I end up choosing Gardner-Webb? Here are some things that helped me in making my decision:
#4 Opportunity. Before deciding on a college, take a mental inventory of all of the things you are interested in pursuing. Check out the various intramural sports, look at the offered clubs and organizations, and/or see if there are opportunities to develop research. Find whatever it is your interested in, because this will be one of the primary ways you meet people and, most likely, make or break your college experience!
#3 Money. I hate to say it, but it was definitely a deciding factor. For every school I was accepted to, I looked for other scholarship opportunities. Many honors programs give out scholarship. Apply. Gardner-Webb was one of the schools that is generous with their scholarships. Keep in mind there are also other outlets to earn some extra money. Get a job off campus, apply for work study, or get other various jobs on campus. I, for example, work as a peer tutor and an RA. Both jobs not only help out in the financial department, but allow me to practice essential leadership and responsibility for my future job. Don’t let money get in the way of attending your favorite school!
#2 Major Program. I was lucky enough to have assurance of what I wanted to do with my life before I applied to college. I realize that’s not the case with everyone. If you do know, or at least have an idea of what department you want to be in, talk to someone of importance in that department. At most, if not all, of the schools I toured, I met with someone from their education department. I knew I wanted a department with lots of time spent in the classroom gaining experience as well as a program that not only instructed how to teach content successfully, but incorporated how to do that and impact a child for a lifetime. Upon asking these questions and hearing what each program had to offer, GWU’s School of Education outshined the others.
#1 Atmosphere. This was probably the most influential aspect of campus that helped me in making my decision. The more colleges you tour, the better. When you are able to visit the campus and meet some of the people, you will really get a feel for what the atmosphere of each one will be like when you live there. This is where Gardner-Webb really stood out in my mind. Compared to many of the other schools I toured, the people I met at GWU seemed much more genuine. While on my tour, I noticed my tour guide knew a lot of other current students. He wasn’t a stranger at his own school. I wanted that. It was possible at a small school, like GWU. What separated Gardner-Webb from the other small schools, however, was that everyone wanted to know your name. You were not just another number. This was extremely important to me in choosing a school. I wanted to feel a part of something and like my presence was valued.
Even with keeping these things in mind, I was overwhelmed by the importance of the decision. I didn’t want to choose the wrong school. I would be investing a lot of time and money. I didn’t want it to go to waste. So honestly, it all came down to using my best judgment and just trusting that God had a plan and a purpose. After almost three semesters at Gardner-Webb, I can’t see myself anywhere else. I am so incredibly grateful for the relationships I have with my peers, my professors, and my coworkers. I’ve also found multiple opportunities to pursue my passions as well as discover new ones.
Avery Woods, ’21, Elementary Education