George Fox Campus

What I Wish I'd Known About College Before I Got Here

Academics

I started thinking about what college I wanted to attend in the fifth grade. By high school, I was obsessed with researching the universities I’d always dreamed about. Any free time during school was spent scrolling through Google in pursuit of building my list of top schools.

State schools? Private schools on the East Coast? My parents’ alma mater? The options seemed endless, exciting and expensive.

And, just when I was convinced that I had figured it all out, I was in the backseat of a car headed to Oregon to tour a random college whose pamphlet came in the mail two months prior. 

George Fox University wasn’t on my master list. It wasn’t what I had planned. And, it for sure wasn’t what fifth-grade Anna had dreamt about.

We can have a lot of preconceived notions about what college will be like, and in the best way George Fox lived up to none of mine. Here are some of the things that I wish I had known before attending this university.

I thought professors would be scary and strict

OK, maybe they are a little strict. But, I promise, it’s because they care about you. Compared to high school, when I thought teachers were mean just for fun, attending classes in college made me realize that the “strictness” professors may have toward assignments and deadlines is because they have your best interest in mind.

As hard as it may be to believe, they desire to foster your learning experience and build the practice of punctuality so you don’t have a rude awakening during your first job after graduation. They aren’t just strict for the sake of it, and they aren’t always scary and serious. Professors are often hilarious, telling jokes during lectures, playfully bantering with students, or wearing silly outfits to class. 

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I thought I would automatically feel like a grown-up

Ah, now this is a funny one. Ask any college senior if they feel old enough to be an adult and they’ll probably just laugh. Even though I am sitting here with an engagement ring on my left hand, owning a cat, and my childhood bedroom has been refurbished into a guest room, I still feel like a child.

I’ve learned that feeling like an “adult” is a lot different than what I expected it to be. My freshman year roommate and I sent a picture to our moms after our first successful load of laundry, and we felt pretty adult then. I felt like an adult when I realized there were no valid excuses as to why my honors essay my sophomore year was turned in late. And, I felt especially adult after spending the night crying over the vet informing me my newly adopted cat had to get a lump tested for cancer (don’t worry, it came back negative!). 

I have learned to give up the notion that, at a certain age, I will automatically hit adulthood and never turn back. I realized that some days I will surprise myself with maturity and other days I will choose to stay up watching cartoons until 3 in the morning. Adulthood is not a defining moment but instead a culmination of making responsible choices and childish ones. It’s a process of making mistakes and making a deliberate decision to carry on despite them.

I thought I would be just another number 

Fox is also unique in that we call most of our professors by their first names. This is part of the Be Known promise that Fox commits to, and the professors are at the center of this promise, living it out daily. Not only do they care about your academic and professional success, they care about you. This includes your spiritual formation, relationships, mental health – you name it – these amazing individuals are here to be compassionate and authentic in their relationships with you.

Being known is more than memorizing a name for our faculty. It is meeting you where you’re at and helping you grow to where you want to be.

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I thought that maintaining high school friendships would be easy

I learned the hard way that working to maintain long-distance relationships can be just that: work. When I was younger, the relationships that I had were usually those that were convenient. It’s hard not to be friends with the people you see almost every day for four years. But “easy” doesn’t usually create the strong lifelong connections we yearn looking for.

As the semester gets busier and classes get harder, reaching out can seem downright exhausting. However, it’s when we value relationships amid inconvenience that we appreciate their value. Remember: Friendships don’t sustain themselves, so sending that text back when you think you’re too busy is worth it.

I thought that I would automatically know what I wanted to study

I switched my major officially six times my freshman year. Yes, you heard me right – six times in one year. I swore I wanted to be a missionary, and then a politician, and then a marriage counselor, and then a … well, you get the point. I had no idea when I signed up for classes the fall semester of freshman year that I wanted to study communications.

Lucky for me, however, the super talented advisors at the IDEA Center were able to help me navigate through my passions, talents and priorities. I was so scared to not know what I wanted to do that I attempted to fool people into thinking I wanted to do everything. This only left me frustrated, tired and confused until I was able to finally set my pride aside and ask for help.

It is more than OK to not know what you want to do, whether that be your freshman year or senior year. They are trained to help you for a reason! You’re not alone in your search of trying to “figure it out,” and I am not convinced yet that we truly ever do.

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I didn’t know what college was going to be like until I got here. And, as hard as it is to accept, there is no amount of research that can replace your personal experiences when you are trying to grow up.

If I can leave you with anything to encourage growth in your experience here in Newberg, I leave you with this: learn to enjoy being proven wrong.

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Anna Gallahger

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Anna is from Spokane, Washington, and is a senior communication major and member of the George Fox Honors Program. She has a passion for the history of tattoos and spends most of her free time thrift and vintage shopping. She is a regular at See See Motor Coffee here in Newberg and loves to order their cold brew topped with whipped cream.

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