What Honors Means to Me: A Word to Incoming Freshmen

Senior year of high school is a whirlwind. The start of the year is consumed by college applications – writing the perfect Common App essay, getting letters of recommendation, and answering the long list of supplement questions each college requires. You take the SATs for the last time and go on additional campus visits. Just when you are finish with your final applications, the time comes to start applying for scholarships. Soon you start receiving your decision letters with your financial aid packages, and visit your top schools one last time on accepted student days. In what seems like a blink of an eye, the May 1st deadline rolls around and you are forced to make “the big decision.” Once you do commit to a school and take any AP tests that you have signed up for, you get to breathe again, and after a stressful year, you begin to relax. This is the time to celebrate all that you have accomplished with fun events such as awards night and senior prom. Before you know it, your countdown to graduation is up and it is time to say goodbye to the community that you have been a part of for the past four years.

The last year of high school goes by in such a blur, that sometimes you can forget to stop and appreciate the final moments. I know that this is an overwhelming time, and the thought of what college will be like is constantly on your mind. As a first year student, I was in this position last year and one of my biggest concerns was how I would find my place in college. I was heavily involved in my high school and had known my longest friends for close to ten years. The thought of leaving a place where I had achieved so much and felt so comfortable in left me feeling a mix of accomplishment, fear, and sadness on graduation day. Having been President of my high school’s chapter of the National Honor Society and valedictorian of my graduating class, I was scared that going into college I would not be able to live up to the pressure and expectations that others had for me – or the ones I had for myself. I joked with my friends that I had reached my peak at age 18, but behind this humor was an actual fear.

The reason I chose to come to BSU was because of the Honors Program. While I was considering many “big name schools,” whenever I visited them something didn’t feel right. They were too overwhelming and I could see myself getting lost and feeling like I had no one to turn to. At Bridgewater’s Honors Admission Dinner I talked to a current Honors student about my options and I remember her telling me, “You can go somewhere and be a small fish in a big pond, or you can go somewhere and be a big fish in a small pond.” She pointed out all of the benefits of the Honors Program and explained how much of an impact it had on her. I knew after our discussion that I wanted to be part of a more intimate community that truly cared about my success and could support me throughout my journey, instead of going somewhere else where I would only be viewed as a number.

I could not be happier with my decision to come to BSU as a member of the Honors Program. The two biggest things that the Honors Program has done for me is provide me with a sense of community and help me to further develop my leadership skills. The sense of community I have from being in Honors has stemmed from the numerous events hosted by the Honors Program, the Honors Center, working for the Honors Program, and being involved with the Honors Student Congress. I love how the Honors Program is constantly holding events. From holding breakfasts in the Honors Center to planning off campus trips to the movies and the Newport mansions, there is always something that I am looking forward to. I try to attend as many events as possible because the more events you attend, the more involved you get, which leads to you naturally becoming friends with others who are also regularly attending these events. I am a naturally quiet and reserved person when I meet a new group of people, so having these events to go to helped me tremendously when trying to break out of my shell, as they allowed me to slowly get to know and become comfortable with other members in the Honors Program.

In addition to this, the Honors Center has been extremely important to me. It is a place I can go whenever I need extra support, feel lonely, or want to catch up with my friends. Everyone who spends time in there is extremely nice and friendly, and whenever I go there, I leave feeling less stressed and in a really good mood. I met the best friend I have here at BSU from spending time in the Honors Center.

Working for the Honors Program is another way that I have found a sense of community. I work with such a great team of individuals who truly care about their positions and cannot see myself working anywhere else on campus. I am extremely passionate about the Honors Program and love that my job can contribute to this passion. Also, working for the Honors Program means that I have the best boss I could imagine. It is obvious how much she cares about all of her student workers and is always willing to listen to new ideas. Working for her has allowed me to become better prepared to work at a professional job after I graduate and she has played an instrumental role in making me feel at home here at BSU.

Becoming involved with the Honors Student Congress has given me a great opportunity to make new friends. This organization is filled with people who have opened my eyes to see what kinds of amazing things BSU students can do. It is wonderful to be a part of a group of individuals who love the Honors Program as much as I do and realize the potential that we can achieve. This year we hosted an event called “Making the Grade in Kenya,” where we raised nearly $4,000. This money was used for a scholarship that will fully fund a girl in Kenya to go to school for two years. Coming in to college I never would have dreamed that I would be able to help put on such an amazing fundraiser, but through the Honors Student Congress I have been able to take part in many fantastic events. This organization has also given me the chance to expand on my leadership skills. I am Secretary of the Honors Student Congress, and through this position I have developed new skills and been able to take on many responsibilities. Taking on this leadership role has also provided me with an opportunity to attend the National Collegiate Honors Council conference in Chicago next November. From gaining small benefits to large opportunities, joining the Honors Student Congress was one of the best decisions I made this year.

While everyone has their own story, I hope that hearing some of my experiences will ease your worries and give you a better understanding about the benefits of Bridgewater’s Honors Program. Your college experience will be what you make of it, and my biggest piece of advice to you is to come in with a positive attitude. Take advantage of the opportunities and resources on campus, and know that there are no limits on what you can accomplish. Know that you will have all the support you need to be successful and the people here are rooting for you. So for now, stop counting down how many days are left until graduation and enjoy your last few moments of high school. Your first day of college will be here soon, and even though it will be a big change, you’re ready – so come in fearless.

-K. A.

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