Advice from Real College Students

I have a heavier-than-usual load of writing to accomplish at the moment, beyond my normal weekly blogs and periodic articles for higher education and equestrian publications.  I’m not complaining – as a “reformed” English major, writing for me is a straightforward process and I’ve been at it long enough to know what steps I need to follow to produce material that I’m happy with.  But I suffered a touch of writer’s block last week and needed to recharge and refresh my sources.  For traditional writers (novelists, biographers, etc.), this usually requires a web search or a trip to the library to conduct research.  For an educational consultant like me, it meant going back to my best source of information:  my current and former college students.

Via social media channels, I reached out to this group and asked a simple question:  What do you wish you’d known about being a college equestrian before you got to college?

Because there’s a chance that some of you readers won’t get to see the other written pieces when they’re finished, I’m going to share some of their valuable insights here (with names omitted for privacy).  It’s good stuff – some of it should inspire you and some of it should make you think about your own situation when it comes to riding and your college search.  Most importantly, though, it’s real and it’s heartfelt.

Here are my former students in their own words:

“High school seniors need to realize that their own show desires are incredibly limited, especially that first year. College is a hard transition and academics should come first. Don’t worry about getting to horse shows, or even making a team, because it is SO INCREDIBLY HARD to do everything that you want to do.”

“Sometimes as a student your mind is so entangled and consumed by studying (or anything going on in your life), that having a lesson is the best kind of break. Having an outlet for equine interest and fun kept me focused and healthy (in mind and body). I think it’s great for prospect students who are weary of managing barn-time with school-time to understand that riding at school, although it takes up time and energy, can sometimes be a sort of rejuvenating experience that is very worthwhile and for many reasons.”

“If you were a good student in high school (like most equestrian people are) Its not impossible or excessively hard to balance riding and going to school and working. You have to choose your priorities and how you spend your time but you are able to work ride and be successful in school!”

“The “pulling a name out of a hat and just getting on” thing, without a warm up was incredibly daunting every show.  It totally changes the way you think about riding and how you approach each session whether it be a lesson, hack, or a show. There were days when I was forced to ride the horse I was absolutely terrified of because it would better me and I left the barn in tears, but it made me a better rider and a better person.  Be prepared to have completely different instructing techniques thrown at you and just accepting it.  Your coach is your coach and you can’t do a whole lot to change it.”

“I always made the argument that sending me to college without [my horse] would be like sending someone to college with a horse who had never had a horse before– making time for schooling was just a given, and it was important that my parents understood that. Not having a horse with my off the bat would have thrown off my entire college experience!”

Thanks, students.  Keep up the good work!

(And if you need assistance to become a college student, don’t hesitate to contact me.)


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