Transitioning from a small town to a large university

Chapman W.

chapman croskell
Chapman Croskell

“Your school was how small?”

This seems to be the most common reaction when I tell people the size of my graduating high school class (The graduating senior class size was nine people, just in case anyone was wondering).

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Coming from such a small town to a larger university such as Colorado State University was quite the transition for me.

Growing up in a small town was a very unique experience. It was easy to get to know all of the people in town, and it seemed like everyone knew everyone’s business. On one hand, it was much harder to have a private life, and many options for trying new things required heading 30 minutes to the next city over. On the other hand, there always seemed to be support to find in the town, and everyone was very helpful. Moving to Fort Collins meant that I had to adjust from a town of 200 people to a campus with over 30,000 students alone.

One of the first things I noticed coming to CSU was how easy it was to blend into the crowd. If I had not been so invested in joining groups and getting so involved on campus, I see how easy it could be to simply go to class and then return home. Unlike high school, nobody forced anyone to do anything in college. While this can be freeing at first, finding ways to keep yourself busy and get involved can be very helpful for reintroducing structure into one’s schedule.

On the topic of getting involved, the amount of options I had for joining groups were much more varied once I came to college. Between the hundreds of clubs, Greek life, residence life and other opportunities such as student media, there’s something for everyone at CSU. Back home, I was limited by whatever my school had to offer, or if I wanted to drive every day, I could join groups at some of the other schools in the area. Here at CSU, I have so many ways to get involved with all of my varied interests that I often find myself overwhelmed. Finding groups on campus is a wonderful way to find friends with similar interests, and is one of many things to take advantage of in college.

Another thing I had to work on once I came to CSU was finding quiet spots on campus to de-stress from how many people I was constantly surrounded by. Growing up as an only child in a small town, adjusting to living with a roommate in a noisy residence hall was a bit of a process. Part of my freshman year was me finding places on campus where I could enjoy some peace and quiet and be as productive as I was used to being back in my rural hometown.

One of the biggest adjustments was dealing with the much larger class sizes in college. In high school, my largest class had maybe 20 people in it. The first day I stepped into a lecture hall with over 100 students in it was honestly terrifying for me, and I was worried I would be unable to receive the same level of support from my professors as I had from my teachers back home. Quickly I realized that sitting at the front of the class and actively involving myself in discussions and questions easily made up for the large class sizes. By visiting office hours and getting to know my professors, I was able to get all the help I needed and was used to, and it made the large lectures much more bearable. For those worried about not getting the level of interaction from professors required for the level of learning desired, I would highly recommend meeting your professors outside of class and taking advantage of opportunities to meet in smaller groups.

By far, the biggest change coming from a small school to a large university was the amount of people I’ve had the opportunity to meet. Back home, I had a very small group of friends and I was limited to trying to get along with anyone who shared any of my interests or passions. Here at CSU, I meet amazing people left and right. It’s fantastic how many people love so many of the things I do, and I am always learning from the thousands of people I meet every day from so many different backgrounds.

For anyone coming to CSU from a small town like I did, I advise taking advantage of all of the new opportunities that city and college life offer and getting to know the new people who you now share a home with.

Collegian Reporter Chapman Croskell can be reached at letters@collegian.com and on Twitter @Nescwick.