Let’s Discuss: An Eventer Looks at Colleges

EN young rider blogger and high school Junior Grace Gorham is just beginning the process of looking at colleges and she’s feeling … more than a little overwhelmed. Can you offer any words of wisdom? Let’s discuss! 

Photo courtesy of Grace Gorham.

From Grace: 

Junior year is known by many as the most stressful year in high school. This is the year when classes get hard, you are prepping for senior year and college, and you start to realize that there really isn’t that much time until “the future.” So far, it’s not that bad with my classes, but what is really overwhelming to me is all of the “thinking about the future.” In this post I’ll share with you my thoughts about the college process and my experiences to far, and I hope that others are able to relate.

I am just in the beginning of my college search; I have visited four fairly local schools so far. With each school that I’ve visited, however, it seems that I just feel more confused! I’m not sure that it’s supposed to work like that … I have so many ideas of what I think I’m looking for in a college in my head, but after each visit, those ideas shift until I’m not even sure what I want anymore.

One of the hardest parts for me is the fact, while the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Program is rapidly growing (there are currently 30 USEA affiliated colleges and universities), most schools still don’t have eventing teams. There are plenty of schools with IHSA teams, but very few with eventing. It’s understandable because for eventing you need your own horse, and for IHSA, you don’t — but it’s still frustrating. I’m not sure if I would be happy doing IHSA or not. Right now I feel like I would enjoy it. Obviously it’s very different from eventing, but I think I would enjoy the team atmosphere, and it would be something to help my position and become a more versatile rider.

Another decision I will have to make is whether I want to bring my own horse, compete on an IHSA team, look specifically for a school with an eventing team, or not compete at all and just be on a team recreationally. The one thing I am sure about is that I definitely don’t want to go to a college with absolutely no equine programs, whether that means it has a major or minor in equine studies, an equestrian team, or a barn on campus. That way even if I don’t bring my own horse or ride on a team, I can still have the barn atmosphere to be around or just ride for fun. I think I would feel a little lost without riding, since it’s been such a huge part of my life for over 10 years now.

The four schools that I have visited so far each have their own positives and negatives. For example, with some schools I liked their equine programs, but I didn’t feel like I fit in with the student population. With others, I liked the campus, but not the majors or courses offered. The list goes on and on. I just keep thinking about how it would be so much easier if I could just combine different aspects of each school and create my perfect school!

My ideal school would be something with a small to medium population (about 2,000 to 7,000 students), an equine program, a busy town or small city, and good educational programs. I am hoping to do something in the equine media field (read more about that here), so I think it would be best to go to a school that has a major in something related to communications and media or journalism. I still have to do more research about which major would be best; I’m not sure whether it would be better to have a more general major (such as English) or a very specific major (like an actual equine media major).

As you are probably already thinking, there’s no way I’m going to get all of this in one college. I feel like I’m on an episode of House Hunters where the people say, “I want a modern, 3,000 square foot open floor plan, with seven bedrooms and eight bathrooms, all new appliances, a huge yard, within five minutes of my work and five minutes from everything else I do, oh, and all under $200,000.”

So, I’m going to have to do some research, talk with some people, and figure out what my priorities are. Hopefully I will be able to figure out which schools I want to look at that are further away, and we can make some trips to different places. If you have gone through or are going through the decision of colleges, please leave a comment below about what your strategies were or what helped you through this stressful time.

Read more from Grace at her blog, murphyslawofriding.wordpress.com.

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