For small town students, CMU’s student population brings change and opportunity
More than 20,000 students are enrolled on campus this fall at Central Michigan University — for some, a dramatic increase from the population size they’re used to.
CMU students coming from small hometowns and small high school graduating classes bring perspectives which can result in facing unique adjustments, challenges and experiences.
Mackinac Island sophomore Marie Bunker said one initial adjustment included the realization of how many new people were consistently around her on campus.
“I went from a high school of 40 students, if that, to a school with thousands of students,” Bunker said. “There were more people in my dorm than in my entire school, kindergarten through 12th grade. It seemed like every day there were new faces, which was strange for me because where I come from I know everyone’s face.”
Knowing significantly less of the student population was also a change for Sand Lake senior Stephanie Pocsi.
“It can be disconcerting to go from knowing everyone in your high school and half of your middle school to only knowing about 20 people really well from your Residence Hall,” Pocsi said.
However, Pocsi viewed the large student body as less of an obstacle and more of an opportunity for even more connections to be made.
“Not knowing anyone made me want to know everyone,” Pocsi said. “That’s something I think a lot of people from smaller communities try and do when they get here: get to know as many people as possible. (It) makes the place seem smaller and more manageable.”
Almont senior Delena Allegoet found similar chances upon her arrival to CMU from a high school graduating class of 130 students.
“I was always very shy at my high school, and being by more people helped me open up more,”Allegoet said.
While adaptation is necessary, Bunker and other students found it produced positive results which will help further their journey into larger career and social worlds.
“It wasn’t really that hard to adjust because I needed a change and was very open to that change,” Bunker said. “I wanted to experience something more than Mackinac Island and see what the ‘real world’ was like. I met some wonderful people during my freshman year of college and some of them will be lifelong friends.”
While she had attended a smaller community college for a while, the larger CMU campus was ultimately what suited her personality best, Pocsi said.
“I felt like a fish that didn’t have a big enough bowl to swim in,” Pocsi said. “I am a people person and for me it was a breath of fresh air to come into a place and have to meet new people and make new connections.”
Students’ adjustments from smaller towns may vary in other ways as well, even to the extent of what larger towns and cities may take for granted—such as internet access in Pocsi’s case.
“At home we still have dial-up and it was an adjustment having high-speed up here,” Pocsi said. “Needless to say, I spent a little too much time on the computer just googling everything I could think of because I could.”
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