I love my job. As an admission counselor I travel all over the country, I meet motivated students, I read heart-warming applications, but none of that gets at the heart of why I completely love what I do. It is that I get to represent Furman through all of that in light of my own great experience as a Furman student – that is why I love what I do. Reflecting of my Furman experience comes with the territory. So as I reflect, here are five things I did as a student that defined my Furman experience.
1. I made myself the priority.
Yes, I feel a twinge of self-centeredness as I type these words, but it is a twinge I welcome and embrace. Being a Furman student was a wonderful four years in my life, and I made myself the priority in every part of that experience. I was the priority in that I made sure to not let my four years pass me by unfulfilled or unrealized. These are not the four years in your life when you should start to settle for the expectations of someone else. Quite to the contrary, there are few other spaces that foster the liberty to explore your own dreams and aspirations as well as a university. So yes, I welcome and embrace that twinge of self-centeredness. I invested my time and energy, both in and outside of the classroom, in discovering and pursuing my passions. Furman is a great place for that, and I am a lot happier for it.
2. I ate when I wanted and with whom I wanted.
I feel like, “I made my appetite the priority” would have followed my first point a little too well, so we went with this instead. Regardless, while food currently plays and will always play an important role in my life, I am not here to convince you when to eat and in whose company. Rather, and quite to the contrary, I challenge you to decide that for yourself – yourself and no one else. And no, we are not just talking about your next meal. We are talking about your individuality, about being a person of conviction, which is a lot more difficult than deciding where to go for dinner (that is, unless you have ever tried to decide on dinner plans with a sister or girlfriend, in which case the two are comparable). Being a person of conviction can be hard, whether we are talking about something as trivial as dinner plans or something as significant as where you attend college, or what you study while you are there. And all the decisions in-between—what parties you attend, how well you read for a class, who you spend your time with—they all add up to define you. And making those choices solely because of another person robs the world of something really special. YOU!
3. I never turned down free food.
Sorry to return to food, but I warned you earlier – food currently plays and will always play an important role in my life – and you best believe after four years as a Furman student I know where to find the best free food. In my experience the best free food can often be found at a club or an organization’s open house. There are groups on campus literally waiting to welcome you to their ranks, and getting involved it great! It truly was something that defined my Furman experience. I got involved in organizations I would have never previously anticipated, and I grew to love them and the people I met through them. And to think – it all started with free food at an open house!
4. I spent a summer on campus.
By now in the blog you may have gathered that I kept myself pretty busy as a Furman student. Between classes, clubs, and other commitments it seemed like I was always running to the next thing on my schedule. Summer at Furman is different. The course load seems to lighten. The clubs adjourn until August. The commitments become far and few between. “Finally,” I thought, “I get to slow down and take it all in.” Instead of running to a Residential Life Council meeting, I was able to take a sunset walk around the lake. Instead of tackling homework assignments in the library, I was able to take down some opponents on the sand volleyball court. Spending a summer on campus gave me an opportunity to experience the in-between moments at Furman through which I grew to fully appreciate what was under my nose the whole time – a beautiful campus with so much to offer so many.
5. I gave tours.
As I mentioned at the very beginning I love my job because it gives my time to reflect on my own great experience as a Furman student. However, before I was an admission counselor, before I even graduated from Furman, I was reflecting. I may not have known it then, but giving student-led tours with the admission office served that role in my life. I began giving tours in my senior year, later than most, and I saw it only as a fun way to spend time between classes. As it turned out, it was that and so much more. It was a fifty-minute block of time where, no matter what was going on in my life—the test I had just bombed, the friend who had just cancelled on me, the roommate who had forgotten to do the dishes again—no matter any of that, those fifty-minute tours brought me back to the wonderful gifts Furman had given over the last four years. Creating a space to reflect on that made all the difference for me in realizing what a special and perfect role Furman held and continues to hold in my heart.
There you have it – five things I did that defined my Furman experience. As you continue in the college search process and continue to consider what you are hoping your next four years look like I hope you take these words with you. Attending Furman is a huge experience, and for those who take advantage of it, it can be a transformative one. Start asking yourself, “How will I define my Furman experience?”
-Coady Shovlain ’15