Today, we are introducing a new series designed to help high
school kids and their parents as they consider next steps. Our
intern, Mason, a sophomore in college, will be discussing college,
majors, etc. and talking about what it's really like once you are
out in the real world. We hope her candid accounts and personal
stories help you and your family make the right decisions for
First up, choosing the right college.
By Mason Larimore
The summer before my senior year, I finally decided to take on
the daunting task of deciding which college I would attend the
following fall. As an 18 year old, deciding what I wanted to do and
which school I wanted to continue my education at seemed like a lot
to take on at one time. I knew I wanted to stay in state so I could
utilize all of my scholarship money and I knew I wanted to study
agriculture and continue my FFA career. I also had it in the back
of my mind that I wanted to go to school that had a big athletic
program and had a student body that was diehard about the school's
athletic teams. I sat down one afternoon and got on the internet to
see which Kentucky schools offered agriculture majors and had
active collegiate FFA chapters.
With the click of the mouse, 5 schools popped up that fit my
criteria: Eastern Kentucky University, Morehead University, Murray
State University, Western Kentucky University, and the University
of Kentucky. After perusing each university's website I quickly
narrowed my list to 2 universities, Murray State University and the
University of Kentucky. When looking at these 2 universities they
seemed to be at opposite ends of the spectrum. Murray State
University is located in the western part of the state in the town
of Murray, not 15 minutes from the Tennessee state line. With
current enrollment of around 11,000 students and the current
highlight in the town is that in the past year, they got a Panera
Bread and reopened the bowling alley, it tends to be seen as a
simple, small Kentucky town. In comparison, the University of
Kentucky is located in the heart of Lexington, KY, is home to a
nationally known basketball team and is home to about 30,000
students. The differences between the 2 schools were very apparent
but I wanted to keep my options open.
I toured Murray State first, as it was the furthest away and I
had never been on the campus. After an early start, a 4 hour long
drive, and a change in time zone (Murray is located in the Central
Time Zone) we finally arrived to the campus. At MSU, before the
tour starts, you have a 1-on-1 session with an admissions counselor
to give you a rundown of how the school tends to operate, housing
accommodations, and of course… how much it is going to cost you.
Once this session concludes, the campus tour commences. I really
enjoyed how close all of the academic buildings were to one another
and the residential colleges (at Murray State, they are not dorms…
they are residential colleges. Think Harry Potter housing
Keeping my options open and not settling on the first school I
looked at, I scheduled a tour for the University of Kentucky (home
of the famed UK Wildcats and the diehard student body to match) and
was interested to see what the school could offer for my future.
Once the hour and a half drive was made to Lexington and the group
session over housing, enrollment, and cost had ended we then were
taken on a tour of the sprawling campus (3 times the size of Murray
State's campus) and dormitories. I had spent a lot of time on
campus before for FFA events but had never actually been through
the entire campus so it was an interesting experience for me.
I ultimately only applied to one school (Murray State
University) and began school in August of 2014. There are many
things to consider when applying to colleges and you have to truly
pick a school that fits your wants and needs… not someone else's. I
looked at 2 opposite schools so I had to decide:
Do I want to go to a big school or a small school?
Do I want to live in a big city or small town?
How far away do I want to be from home?
Do I want to go to school where I know a lot of
Does the program at one school fit my needs better than the
Where do I feel most at home?
There are many things to consider, but these were the questions
that helped me narrow it down. These questions are important,
especially the last one, because the place you decide to go to
college ends up being your home away from home.
Once you decide whether you want to stay in state and which
field you want to study, the choice for a school becomes a little
easier to make. I encourage those looking towards going to college
to be open-minded - you may end up at a school that you had never
really heard of before or doesn't meet the original image of what
you thought your college experience was going to be. Murray State
has afforded me many opportunities that I couldn't have experienced
elsewhere! I have been fortunate and never regretted my choice of
school and hope that everyone else gets as lucky as I have been
when it comes to choosing a college. Go Racers!
Check back with us each Monday as Mason shares another part
of her college experience!