How to Transition into College

Freshman Jared Whittenbarger of Kingston, Tennessee, is a nursing major and a goal keeper for the men’s soccer team. Having just transitioned to college, Jared wanted to provide some perspective to future students who are still looking ahead to this change.

Whittenbarger’s exposure to Milligan began through a conversation he had with a coach at a soccer camp in Knoxville, Tennessee. After a great conversation about the school, he scheduled a visit to campus. Before then, Milligan was a vaguely familiar name. Whittenbarger returned to campus after his initial visit for the Honors Weekend in February. It was during this weekend that Whittenbarger made his definite decision. “I actually stepped out of the honors program dinner at Milligan and went to the restroom to call Coach Lilly and verbally commit. It was kind of funny to be on campus making that call.” He had a culminating moment in the cafeteria where he knew the decision was right and did not want to wait any longer.

The first thing that stood out to Whittenbarger about Milligan was the pretty campus, as well as the focus on both academics and faith. He also appreciated seeing the small class sizes and the interactive settings they create. Thus far, Milligan has lined up well with his expectations.

Whittenbarger said he is thankful to have looked for places that would offer programs for his major and his personal interests. For student-athletes, he recommends looking at academics first before athletics. “It’s important to focus on both, but don’t just pick based on one activity.”

Whittenbarger said he balances his major and athletic career by enjoying the opportunities he is experiencing. He appreciates how both opportunities keep him engaged at Milligan. Whittenbarger said he chose to major in nursing because of the opportunity to interact with people.

His advice to those still looking ahead to college is to start early. Completing your application sooner than necessary will provide space to apply for competitive scholarships. He said to keep yourself moving and plan for the process to apply, visit, and interview. He recommends starting the college application process by writing your competitive essay the summer before your senior year.

Whittenbarger is amazed at how fast time has moved since coming to college and acknowledged that adjusting to college is a multistep process. “Going to college fist became real to me when the financial packet came in the mail.”

From there, Whittenbarger suggests keeping an open mind, especially as you and your high school friends begin to pack up and move to different campuses. “It can be rough at times, especially the first week, but you get used to it and settle in.”

For Whittenbarger, his college journey started a little early with preseason for the soccer team. Move in day for him was pretty quick and straightforward. The day was full, and before he really thought about it, his parents had left. “The first two weeks were one big event of getting to know the team who are now the 40 people I know the best.”

As for goals now that he is here and settled, Whittenbarger said, “I want to make sure that I grow spiritually and academically into who the person the Lord wants me to be. I have things I would like to do, but I am no prophet, so I have to stay open. I have faith that I’m going to be led where I need to go and to what I need to do.”

He said to come in confident in yourself and who you are. “Believing in yourself is about 40%. The rest is effort.” Whittenbarger said he has come to believe what his dad always told him that it takes no talent to give effort. College, and the transition into it, takes effort but no more than you are fully equipped to give. Even so, his main advice is to, “keep and open your heart to the Lord.”