Hi! My name is Chelsea Tuggle and I am a sophomore at JCC as well as a second year student ambassador here. I plan on posting some blogs to tell you about my journey as a student, but first, I wanted to tell you what my college decision process was like.
I graduated from Dunkirk High in 2011 and came straight to JCC from there. At the time I had very little idea of what I wanted my major to be so I’ve skipped around quite a bit, but I’ll get to that. My high school had a grant specifically for my class named GEAR-UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) that, as the name suggests, wanted to inform us about college as much as possible so we would be ready to go when the time came. Growing up in my family, college was never an option; it was simply what you did after high school. My parents instilled the importance of education in my sister and me from a very early age so I always knew I would go to college. Which one was not as obvious.
I’m not like some people who have known what they wanted to be since they were three. I changed my mind constantly from being a teacher, doctor, an astronaut, and countless other professions. This made the college decision process that much more difficult since I didn’t know what subject I wanted to specialize in, effectively making my options endless. With GEAR-UP, part of the grant was visiting colleges and touring them. By the time I had graduated I had been to at least fifteen, if not more, college campuses. I understood what I wanted and what I didn’t in residence life, cafeteria choices, and extracurricular activities. I was more informed about college than anyone else I knew. But I still had no idea where I wanted to go.
It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I decided on a school and a major. I was really into nutrition and wanted to attend somewhere with a dietician program. I applied to that school as well as several others. I wanted to have options when I actually had to decide. I applied to JCC then through the online application that is right on their website. I originally did it so I could brag about another acceptance letter, but I ended up being grateful that I had for a different reason. When I received my financial aid packages from the different schools, the first one I checked was for the college that offered the dietician program. As soon as I read through it I knew that going there was going to be impossible. My parents told me it was too expensive to attend and my heart broke. I pouted for a long, long time but I finally rebounded. Sadly my rebound wasn’t until mid-May. At that point colleges had closed their housing availability and I hadn’t replied to any of the colleges soon enough so a lot of them wouldn’t allow me to attend. I pouted some more and finally decided to submit my housing application to JCC because it was financially smart and I could major in math and science, which could then transfer into a dietician program.
In my high school the perception of JCC was that everyone from high school lived at home and attended the Dunkirk campus. That did not sound like the college experience I had been dreaming of. I wanted to get out and be far away so I decided to attend the Jamestown Campus. Due to my excessive pouting earlier in the year and taking too long to decide, I got waitlisted for housing and was forced to find an alternative option for residence. Thankfully, a family friend allowed me to live with her and her husband for the first semester of college and it worked out incredibly well.
Going into the first day of classes last fall I would have said that I was miserable. I didn’t want to attend JCC at all, let alone live off-campus. I was far away from my friends and family and was unhappy. Thankfully, my views changed pretty early into the semester. I began working an on-campus job and I became a student ambassador. I have changed my mind three times for my major, but it’s all been relatively easy, and my advisors have helped me through the process. It was actually a great thing I didn’t end up going to my original choice for college, because I would have spent a lot of money before I found out I was doing something I didn’t actually like. I met friends within the first few days of classes and I realized that JCC was nothing like high school at all. I had a flexible schedule and my classes were all ones I wanted to take, not just ones mandated by someone else.
As I’ve become more involved on campus and with the activities, I’ve grown to like JCC even more. My second semester here (Spring ’12) I moved into the residence halls on campus, and I’m living there again this semester. The opportunities I have had here have been endless. I have worked with science equipment that students at research universities only use as juniors and seniors. I have been offered internships in China and Spain, as well as study abroad experiences across the globe because of connections the staff here has. JCC has surpassed my expectations in every way. After I graduate in the spring with my associate’s degree in communications, I’ve decided I’m going to come back in the fall to enroll in the nursing program. I like it so much here I plan on staying here for a long time!
I really do love it here, and I can’t wait to continue to tell you about the awesome experiences I have at JCC in my future blog posts!