New, transfer students reflect on mid-year transition

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New, transfer students reflect on mid-year transition

Students starting their day on the 1st class day of 2019, BJU, January 9. (Hal Cook)

This spring semester, 19 new and 20 transfer undergrad students arrived on campus, ready to begin their academic career at BJU.     

Their first experiences of BJU are a little different from the students who came in the fall semester. They missed many of the events of first semester, such as the opening ceremonies and society rush.

Additionally, they don’t sweat through the humid heat of August. Instead, thanks to January’s often wet weather, they must quickly adjust to Greenville’s sideways rain.

Despite these differences, these students’ stories about how they came to BJU and their first impressions of the University are very similar to the students who arrived for the fall semester.

Five new students shared with The Collegian their journeys to BJU and their experiences here so far.

James Gonzales, a sophomore computer science major who transferred to BJU from the University of California, Davis, said he first learned of BJU from his parents who both attended the University.

Gonzales said he chose BJU because he knew it was a good Christian university where he would receive a good education. He also said he was able to change his major easily because he was transferring to a new university. “There were a lot of plusses,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales only made up his mind to transfer to BJU in December, so his move was quick. According to Gonzales, one of the biggest differences between BJU and the university he used to attend is the difference in size.

He said the BJU class sizes are a lot smaller. “This is a positive difference,” Gonzales said. “It makes learning a lot more fun and interactive.”

Gonzales said he likes his professors and the general attitude on campus. “The professors here are really a pleasure,” he said.

When asked what his favorite part of BJU is so far, Gonzales said, “Dr. Brent Cook.” He said Dr. Cook makes Themes in Western Thought, a philosophy class many students take, fun.

Caren Pratt, a sophomore communication disorders major, is also a transfer student.  Pratt came to BJU from Landmark Baptist College in Haines City, Fla.

Pratt said she first heard of BJU through someone she knows who attended BJU., so she googled it. She said she was looking for a university that was like her old one.

Pratt also said that she came to BJU in the spring semester because it is easier for her to get a student visa in the Bahamas, where she is from, for the spring semester than for the fall semester.  “I didn’t want to waste any more time [once] I knew this was what God wanted me to do,” she said.

Pratt said that for her, the only difficult part of starting in the spring semester is having to take certain classes out of order, such as taking Bible Doctrines II before taking Bible Doctrines I.

The biggest difference for Pratt was the size of BJU, but in the opposite way from Gonzales.

“The Bible college I went [to] was very small,” she said. “Everyone knew each other’s names, who was dating and where they were from. Here it’s like, ‘Oh I’ve never seen this person before.’”

Pratt choose her major because in the Bahamas, there is only one speech pathologist. Her original choice for a major was biblical counseling, but she chose communication disorders instead.

“Through a series of events, I felt like the Lord wanted me to do speech therapy,” Pratt said. “I googled what major do you need to get to get a speech therapy license, and it was communication disorders. That’s ultimately how I found BJU.”

Pratt said the best experience she has had at BJU so far is when she lost her ID card. She said she talked to her resident assistant, who recommended Pratt check her email before reporting the lost card.

“I decided to check my email,” Pratt said. “I lost my card at 1:50 p.m., and by 1:56 p.m. I had an email saying, ‘Hey, I found your key.’ I was like, ‘Thank God! I thought I was going to starve! That really stood out to me.”

David Cai, a freshman middle school education major, first learned about BJU from his pastor and the internet.

From then on Cai said he wanted to attend BJU. “I did get accepted by other universities, but I had my path set toward BJU,” he said. Cai came to BJU in the spring semester because he had some trouble getting a student visa from Saipan, where he is from, and was not able to come in the fall like he planned.

He said starting in the spring semester has been a little difficult. “It feels that I’m cutting in in the middle of everything,” Cai said. “I don’t want to mess things up.” Thankfully, Cai said he starting to get the hang of things.

He had never visited the University before and was a little nervous about coming to BJU. “At first it was a bit scary because I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “I had heard good things and bad things, but I ended up deciding that I had to see for myself.”

He said the only things he found to be true of BJU are the good things. “I like the food,” he said. “The dorms are better than I expected, my roommates are nice and my professors are good.”

Cai said his favorite part of BJU is the time he spends with others. “It’s really fulfilling, especially all the testimonies and all the things they say that encourage you,” he said.

Natalie Crute, a freshman composite social studies education major, also heard of BJU from her pastor, a graduate of BJU.

She worked through the fall so she could start school this semester. She was also awarded some scholarships which helped pave her way financially.

Crute said coming to school in the second semester was a little disorienting, and she felt that the freshmen who came in the fall had more time to get to know people. “Sometimes I feel slightly out of the loop, but I am making friends,” she said.

Crute used BJU curriculum as a child and decided to come to BJU when the time came. She visited the University a few times during high school. “I got to kind of experience what college life would be like,” she said. “So, I wasn’t coming here cold turkey. I kind of knew where everything was.”

Crute said she was expecting to be pushed to academic excellence at BJU, and she has found that to be true.

She also said she was excited about the University’s biblical worldview.“I’ve already seen that in my classes and in the chapel messages,” she said. “They are really practically teaching how to apply the Bible to everyday life and that’s really important.”

Crute said her favorite part of BJU is residence hall life. “It’s nice to spend time with the girls, and you can relate to each other because you all have classes,” she said.

Daniel Rathbun, a freshman history major, is also experiencing his first semester of college.

Rathbun was also working during the fall semester to save up enough money to begin his college career this spring semester. He said he was a little nervous about meeting new people and being at a new place, but he is enjoying his time here.

“The college life was always something I wanted, and was told I would enjoy, and that was very accurate, because I really love it,’’ he said.

Rathbun said he also loves the social aspect of college. “BJU really has a fantastic community, and I’ve come to really love it,” he said. Rathbun said he is looking forward to being able to grow in his friendships and grow in the Lord.

“I had not been keeping up with my devotions before coming here, but since I started here, I had the constant reminder to do my devotions,” he said. “I really appreciate that about this school.”