When I first came to Weber State University, I expected my stay to be a pit-stop of generals on my way to bigger and better things. Free rent had spurred a sudden move to North Ogden from Bountiful and a switch in fall orientations from Salt Lake Community College to WSU.

I grew up in Arizona and spent my first few semesters at Arizona State University, a mecca for the wannabe Californians. On the enormous campus, the only acceptable form of transportation from one building to the next is something with wheels, which students ride through the throngs of thousands who can only afford to walk. In the unbearable heat most of the year, students adorn Suns jerseys and unflattering halter tops — that is, if they bother at all to wear anything over swimsuits usually one size too small. Most teachers are there to research and step on the heads of ENGL 1010 students on their way up the ladder of academia. Quality of instruction varied on how much that professor thought they were God — all-knowing, complete with the “thou shalt not put any other class before mine.” Oh, and at ASU there was also nowhere to park, but students had to pay $500 a year for a decent lot that was always filled by 9 a.m.

Outside the union building, there was almost always some club or society performing or at least playing music, so that there was a constant bass thump through the middle of campus, a heartbeat always racing. Since freshmen are required to live on campus unless living with parents (and most other students live nearby), restaurants, clubs and clothing stores flocked to University Boulevard to build a young-adult metropolis whose theme seemed to be “last call!”

So obviously, the WSU experience came as a bit of a shock this past fall. I remember thinking, “Where are all the restaurants in the union building? There must be another floor here somewhere . . .” and “Where are all the people? I actually have room to walk.”

Although I miss many aspects of the ASU college life, the party school just wasn’t for me. Granted, WSU is not the place for everyone, either. Shortly after I started here, though, I realized that although WSU is 40,000 students less than what I was used to, it was the bigger and better school I had been looking for.

In the past two semesters here, I’ve met more people, gotten to know more professors and become more involved than during my two years at ASU. Why? Because WSU rocks.

Most students at WSU work at least part-time, commute to school and are so busy that it’s like they just add school in for some extra torture. The people I’ve met have and still work hard, financially and academically, to be here. A college degree is a goal, not a hope. It’s also nice that, since I got married at an age incomprehensible to most ASU students, when someone sees my ring here they don’t automatically say, “WHAT?! WHY?! You’re way too young.” Mind your own business, please.

Professors are here to teach, not get through class so they can move on to their important work in labs. Office hours are often flexible, and all of my professors have been willing to sit with me, some hours on end, to explain nuances of theories and concepts I don’t quite understand yet. Oh, and did I mention most teachers know all their students’ names? Suddenly I wasn’t “Yeah, you, girl with the long hair,” at the end of a pointing arm up the auditorium seats.

The amount of majors may be limited compared to bigger schools, but certainly not the quality of content taught within them. Many professors foster a community in each class, encouraging students to participate and get to know each other.

Last but not least, WSU students still know how to party. It’s just mostly off campus in hole-in-the-wall restaurants and clubs, scoping out undiscovered bands before they make it big, and out on the slopes tearing it up (or falling off the lift like me).

Not everyone should be a Wildcat. Maybe it’s just a place for Indy wannabes who work way too much. As for me, though, I have bid adieu to trying to part the Red Sea of bodies each time I’m running late for class, and trying to get an A from teachers who don’t care whether you live or die, and a bass thump that always gives you a headache anyway. I’m here to stay.

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