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Image of high school graduate.I grew up in a small town in northeast Nebraska. High school was a great experience because I had wonderful teachers, friends, and coaches.  I was a good student and was involved in clubs and organizations, was president of our letter club, and participated in every sport offered throughout the school year.

Growing Up

I was the youngest of 15 children (yes, you read that right…15!) so life was a bit different in some ways than in smaller families.  I was a pretty quiet, introverted kid …partly because I was the youngest and getting a word in edgewise was nearly impossible.  My dad was a farmer and worked from sun up till sundown, and my mother was understandably busy keeping the house running – the true quarterback of our family! They always made sure we had food on the table, clothes on our backs, and we all had the opportunity to receive a college education.  All but one of my siblings went off to college, so I knew that I would be attending college as well.  Although I was the last child in the household, I was scared to bother my parents about college, so I tried to figure things out on my own.

Planning for College

My high school counselor doubled as the religion teacher, so counseling was on a part-time basis. His office was in the back hall, so if you didn’t need anything specific you may not have seen him around.  I recall very few interactions with our counselor – he went over the results of our ACT, but I don’t remember him meeting with seniors one-on-one to go over our plans after high school.  I talked to some classmates about their plans for after graduation.  I never asked questions, never tried to schedule an appointment with the counselor, and to be honest I never inquired with my family as to what I needed to be doing.  I did apply for a couple of scholarships, and my mom and I completed the FAFSA.

Off to College

I decided to attend UNL and live in the dorms with a friend who would be a sophomore that year.  I never went on a college visit, I just knew people that were going to UNL and decided that I would go there, too.  Although the living situation went really well, I found myself following my roommate around like a lost puppy, and not partaking in the opening week activities for freshman students.  I enjoyed my time at UNL, connected with several girls in my dorm, but felt a little bit lost and overwhelmed coming from a very small town.  I made the decision to transfer to Kearney State College (KSC) the following fall.  My brother attended KSC, so I was familiar with the campus from visiting him.  It was a good move for me, but being a second year student at a new college took a bit for me to settle in.  You can probably guess…I didn’t attend a transfer fair and didn’t ask any questions!

Finding my Way

I initially started UNL with Athletic Training in mind, but when I planned to transfer, my advisor told me that KSC didn’t have an Athletic Training program. (They have one of the best AT programs in the state!) I took her word for it and didn’t ask questions when I got to Kearney State. KSC was the right fit for me, but now my next obstacle was figuring out a major.  All of my credits transferred from UNL, thank goodness, so I had that going for me! I had thought about education but talked myself out of it.  From the beginning, I was fascinated with the medical field; nursing, radiography, physical therapy…but I never job shadowed and was scared that I didn’t know enough about those careers or that I wouldn’t be successful.  Again, I didn’t ask questions and went on trying to figure things out for myself.

Selecting a Major

The chair of the Health/PE & Recreation Dept. at KSC, came into our class to introduce a new major that Kearney State was offering; Fitness & Leisure Management.  Hmmm…I was comfortable with sports, fitness, and leisure…after all, I started out as an athletic training major. That was all it took – it was history from there!  I graduated with a BS in Fitness & Leisure Management.  After an 18-year stint at my first job, I found my way to EducationQuest Foundation. I sincerely love my job and the students/families that I get to help daily!  Just for fun, I’ve taken several career assessments and they always come back with the same results …. medical!  I often wonder; if I hadn’t been so scared, talked with my school counselor, and asked some questions along the way, would I be that medical professional that I had dreamt of becoming?

Lessons Learned

As you can tell, the resounding theme in my story is that I didn’t ask questions!  If you are a senior and plan to go to college after high school, I encourage you to do the following;

  • Begin your college journey early!
  • Meet with your school counselor about your future plans.
  • Tell your parents (or other adult) what your aspirations are and ask for help getting there.
  • Job shadow! This is the best way to learn about a career.
  • Research and GoVisitCollege to make sure it’s the right fit!
  • Ask LOTS of questions!

For more help with your college planning and financial aid journey, contact EducationQuest Foundation.  We’re here for you!