By: Michelle Hardy
College is a big deal, and choosing where to attend college is a major decision. It can also be an overwhelming one, especially with pressure from parents and relatives who all seem to have a different opinion on which school is best. Ultimately, it all comes down to choosing the school that’s right for YOU. For me, the University of Wyoming was that choice. Here’s my story.
Staying at home or branching out?
Being born and raised here in Laramie, I grew up attending UW sporting events and visited campus often. I remember spending afternoons learning about dinosaurs and fossils at the Geological Museum and singing in my Christmas program every year in the Arts and Sciences Auditorium. Even off campus, UW is an integral part of the community: Laramie is certainly a proud college town, and brown and gold can be seen almost everywhere you look.
When it came time for me to start looking at colleges, UW seemed like the natural choice. But, like many people, I wanted to consider other colleges away from home — I didn’t want to be that person who spent their entire life in their hometown. I had grown up next to the university, and to me it felt too familiar and safe, like I was settling.
Since both of my parents grew up in Pennsylvania and attended Penn State, I decided to send my ACT scores there and see what happened. Tuition was extremely high, and I didn’t have a college fund, so I was hopeful that there would be discounts for children of alumni. As it turns out, there weren’t any. Even though I graduated from high school with honors and had a good ACT score, I quickly learned that it wasn’t enough to earn a full-ride or even a partial-ride scholarship to a school like Penn State.
Too good to pass up
Although this was kind of a let-down for me, it led me to take a closer look at UW and to really evaluate what the school I’d grown up with had to offer. I realized that with in-state tuition and with the Hathaway Scholarship honors level I had been offered, my education would essentially be paid for. In times like these, where student debt can haunt you long after you graduate, the possibility of earning a four-year degree with virtually no debt was invaluable to me.
I was also drawn in to UW after looking at all the degree programs it had to offer and the variety of extra-curricular clubs and activities available. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in yet, and so it was nice for me to have options. I also wanted to get more involved in college than I had been in high school, and I discovered that UW had a wide-range of student groups and organizations to choose from.
Another thing that helped me choose UW was the size of the campus. Even though it is a four-year state university, UW has that small-town university atmosphere, which really makes you feel like a part of the community here. In deciding where to attend, a major benefit of UW was that I could attend a highly-rated 4A school while still having small class sizes and receiving personal attention from my professors and other faculty.
I am in my final semester at UW and will graduate with a B.A. in journalism and a minor in religious studies in May. Looking back at my choice, I absolutely made the right decision. UW truly is an amazing school with plenty to offer: I received a quality education, had awesome opportunities and met friends I will have for a lifetime. Best of all, I will be graduating completely debt free! Even though I didn’t go far from home, I was exposed to tons of new things and people at UW and was forced to break out of my shell and to experience a level of diversity I hadn’t before. This was the most life-changing thing for me by far and is something that I will value for a lifetime.
I know my particular situation doesn’t apply to everyone, and it’s important when looking at colleges to choose the one that’s right for you. However, I would strongly recommend UW to anyone looking for a quality, diverse education while saving money and still getting that small college experience. If you’re anything like me, you won’t regret it!
Find more information about UW in our Viewbook.