I've been blogging since I was 13 (planning since I was 12) and I've been reading other bloggers' college tour posts since before this blog was even an idea. College for me was this word filled with potential. Like just saying the word college meant that I was 5000 steps closer to making my dreams come true. Now, I'm 16 and college is in the very near future. I'm beginning to consider and visit and receive mail and sunglasses and promotional packets from all of these universities that I will be applying to in a little over a year. A Year. ONE WHOLE YEAR and I'll be completing applications and sending test scores, and getting accepted to places that I will live at and study at from age 18 to 22. I don't think I've ever been so excited.
The first school on my semi long list was Furman University.
I had driven past Furman quite a few times on my way to downtown Greenville, Table Rock State Park, Traveler's Rest... Basically every place in that area except Furman. I was holding off on visiting the campus until I had scheduled an official tour for myself. Monday morning at 9:30 (afternoon tours get way too hot here in South Carolina) I arrived on campus along with a decent sized group of other college considering individuals. I was one of the only rising juniors, I'm starting this search thing a little bit earlier than most, and aside from moms of students, I noticed a lack of females in the room. We watched a fairly short presentation covering all the fast facts given to us on a fan, and listened to a brief description of the Greenville area surrounding the university as well as the many opportunities (Study Away not Study Abroad) that Furman offers individuals.
Before I continue about what was said/discussed/what I learned/etc on the tour, I think it best that I explain why I was even there in the first place.
When I was in 7th and 8th grade, I desperately wanted to be an Elementary School teacher with some special education qualifications. As I got older, did some self searching and such, I discovered that Public Relations, Communications, Business, and Photography are all things that I would much rather pursue. I learned about Furman at a young age and knew that even when my interests shifted, I still had to tour. I'm a sucker for classic brick buildings and that's something Furman has plenty of. While Furman University does not have Public Relations as a major, they do have Communication Studies as well as a Studio Art major which allows you to pursue photography. I figured it was worth checking out, if not for future college sake, than just a nifty brick filled adventure that I could bring my camera along for.
After the opening presentation, the Admissions interns came in and lined up in the front of the room. They all introduced themselves, all were female and majoring in Spanish (what I hope to minor in) among other things except for one guy intern on the end. He seemed pretty chill, but introduced himself as a Fraternity president and Political Science major - not something I am interested in. Just my luck with an "S" for a last name, I ended up with the male intern. They read off the rest of the names of the other "S's" in my group and we went outside following our new tour guide around.
I was the only girl in my group and the only rising junior.
There was a tall guy with his dad from Austin, Texas, Another tall guy with his mom from another school district in Columbia, South Carolina, and a not as tall guy with his mom from Memphis, Tennessee, and then me with my mom and my sister.
We stood in an ish semi circle facing the tour guide and briefly introduced ourselves. Columbia was interested in politics and had already visited Furman for various programs in the past, Austin was interested in business (I think), and Memphis was undecided but passionate about the outdoors. I was the last to introduce myself and said something to the extent of that I was a lifestyle blogger and rising junior from Columbia, South Carolina with an interest in communications, business and Spanish. From this point on, the tour guide's focus was divided between 3 potential students instead of 4 and I'll let you guess who was a little bit left out (hint hint it's me).
Side note: Yes, I was left out of some parts of the conversation, but I don't blame the tour guide for that. The three gentleman in my group were rising seniors and would have to make up their minds much sooner about Furman and if it is right for them or not. Also, they seemed slightly better off than I was - $63,000 is quite the pretty penny so my mom was very interested in hearing about financial aid and scholarships when little information was provided in addition to the opening presentation - And they were also undecided or interested in similar things that our guide was interested in so that probably helped them as well. No complaints at all about the guys in the group with me, even including the tour guide, they were all great and held the doors and such and my mom loved chatting with their parents.
Anyways, during the first half of the tour we were taken to see the important things like some of the classrooms (some of which are smaller than most rooms at my high school because of the student to faculty ratio 11:1 and the average class size being 19.) the dining hall (complete with a Moe's, Chick-fil-a, and a Tupelo Honey coming soon. Also a salad bar with vegetables and greens grown on campus, and various other options available to students), the science building and labs, and the library (pretty much just huge). We saw one regular dorm room (South Housing) that a Freshman would receive because the school does have a 100% housing deal where every student lives on campus. We passed by the rose garden which was absolutely breathtaking even though it's not at its full potential right now. After that we made our way back to the Admissions office where we took a bathroom/snack break, and loaded onto a golf cart for the second part of the tour.
We rode in the back of the golf cart, which was fun and slightly confusing (apparently their right was my left and vice versa) and made stops to visit other parts of the campus that would have significantly prolonged our walking tour if it weren't for the golf cart. We saw some of the campus apartments (North Village), as well as the cabins that are a part of the Greenbelt Community available to Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors who are interested in a lifestyle based around minimizing your environmental footprint and sustainability complete with compost, hummingbird feeders, and solar panels. TOTALLY up my alley!
On the golf cart tour we also passed by the Furman Belltower and the Cherrydale Alumni House. Our tour guide said we could get off the golf cart and snap a picture, so I did and the other guys in my group gave me an odd look.
Memphis asked our tour guide a few questions about the Swamp Rabbit trail (running/walking/biking trail from Furman, through Traveler's Rest and downtown Greenville) and other outdoor activity type things so my mom took the opportunity to share a little bit about I Can 4 Isaac and Isaac's participation in the local branch of Ainsley's Angels. Ainsley's Angels is an organization that pairs runners with individuals who are not capable of running a race on their own. The runner pushes the individual in a racing chair during the race. Isaac's runners have come in first, or made incredibly good times despite the heavy weight. Memphis seemed to be a little interested in the organization so my mom gave him and his mom the I Can 4 Isaac business card as well as one of my business cards - Hey there Mr Memphis if you're reading this! -
As far as my personal thoughts on Furman University....
I'm going to have to return before my mind is totally made up. The tour showcased almost all of the buildings except for the Art building and where ever the communications classes are located. A visit in the middle of the school year would most likely be a better choice for me simply because then I could personally meet with the Photography professor and some of the students pursuing an education more in line with that that I'm searching for.
It was a slight culture shock for me. I absolutely loved the facilities and the buildings, but I'm not 100% that it's the best fit. I've heard so many stories about other students finding their dream school and I wasn't feeling particularly attached or detached from it. This could be because I have only briefly explored two other universities and am not in a position where I am crunched for time as far as application deadlines and other tours go. I'm honestly not sure.
There are many elements that I loved in the student life and housing aspect of Furman, especially proximity to downtown Greenville and Table Rock State Park and the rest of upstate SC, but I didn't get enough of a feel on the education aspect to have an actual opinion on the university itself.
I really appreciate the presence that the university has on their community. I forget the numbers, but there is a Service Corps of Students on campus and a large number are involved in that Corps. There is a scholarship awarded to individuals in South Carolina who are actively involved in their communities given by the university. Obviously, if you've been reading for at least a couple months you would know about my more recent work in my community, and know just how much I adore being able to help people. This really made me excited. I know I'll be applying to Furman, simply because I love what the university stands for!
All in all, I enjoyed the tour (apart from my slight complaint) and learned a lot about Furman University that I would never have been able to experience from virtual tours and the photographs on their website. I also enjoyed my free salad and blueberry crumble muffin. I can't wait to revisit and hopefully be able to walk away with more knowledge about areas of education that I was unable to explore during my tour, as well as a more solid opinion on the university and if it's a good match for me or not.