Jumping right into my topic - last month I said I would record some of the ups and downs of Hannah's first year at Southern. The "Ups" far outweigh the few "Downs", but I will begin here with those few downs. Noting that no place on this fallen planet is perfect, we were pleased that we only found three items that we wish were different.
1. There is little actual help in finding a job beyond posting listings. Hannah had never held an actual paying job and the process was somewhat a mystery for her, though I do not suggest that high school students get a job just for experience if it is possible to forgo that for a time. Hannah did a lot of volunteer work during high school - but in carefully selected places where there was a measure of protection. However, since her college grades and the resulting scholarship monies were just as important as an outside job, we felt no pressure for her to find work while at school her first year, though she did apply to a few positions (which she did not get). Not only did Hannah have to learn her subjects, she had to learn "school" as well (one of the very few negatives of homeschooling.) The Lord has since provided the perfect summer job here at home working on a hydroponic farm alongside one of her older brothers, and when she goes back to Southern she has a lead for some possible babysitting jobs. It all works out.
2. Pressure to date and public displays of affection were probably the most negative aspect for Hannah. Our family is of a courtship mindset, which Hannah chooses to honor. Once her new college friends realized her position, there was less pressure on her personally, but it was disturbing to Hannah to see so much physical emphasis placed on relationships prior to marriage and in unavoidable public venues - like the entrance area to her dorm.
3. Even though not all classes are of a religious nature - this is still a Christian college - and an Adventist college specifically. I found it lacking that in the "secular" classes (at least the ones Hannah has had to date) that no Adventist materials are used, or even assigned for outside reading. For example in the marriage and family class no mention was ever made of The Adventist Home - a wonderful book that upholds our family's core values - even in our Baptist home. (Yes, I have read it all and loved it!)
On a more positive note, here are the things we loved.
1. The faculty and staff are amazing. They have been so helpful and kind to Hannah that we cannot begin to track them all down and thank them personally - just know how much we appreciate all you do! From the time we began to first explore the possibility of Hannah attending Southern - to help for her even now during the summer - we have had nothing but the best experiences - with many individuals going beyond our expectations. I should leave this point for my last and strongest one - but I can't - it is the people that make the difference and I want them to be first on my list of positive things about Southern.
2. The campus is beautiful! It has been a healthy and positive asset to Hannah's college experience.
3. The registration process has been easy and painless. Even the semester that Hannah had some glitches with her schedule changing several times and thus encountering closed classes - her advisor (one of the wonderful people mentioned in point 2 above) helped us navigate through it, and it all worked out fine.
4. Hannah is a music major. When I asked her if she had anything to add to my list of positive items, she immediately said to include the practice rooms. She loved that each musician had a well equipped, pleasant, individual room, but they were all there in one building joined in creating music.
5. My husband (and Hannah's dad!), when asked his opinion on this post, replied that he felt that whether on campus, or off-campus while on a school event, he felt that Hannah was well looked after and safe as much as is humanly possible.
6. The spiritual emphasis was varied and frequent. This is the biggest reason we are grateful for a Christian university.