Student Blog The blog of William Woods University Undergraduate Students


The REAL Advantages of Freshman Advantage

We just returned from Thanksgiving break and I was fortunate enough to go home to Colorado and spend it with my family this year. While I was home, my younger sister AliBeth turned 18 and also received her second college acceptance! This really got me thinking about my senior year of high school and the summer leading up to college.

When I visited William Woods during the equestrian visit weekend, we went to a session on Freshman Advantage. My mom was immediately excited about it and I signed up that day.

At the time, the advantages seemed to be:

  • getting used to being away from home,
  • spending time learning the campus,
  • and getting some classes out of the way.

Not only did I get all of that and them some, there were many other benefits like knowing people before orientation and making many fun memories. Looking back now as a senior, I still reap the rewards of spending three weeks at William Woods during the summer.

Group of 10 people smiling at City Museum door

We got to go on a field trip to the City Museum in St. Louis which is essentially a giant playground!

Lasting Friendships. One of my biggest reasons to be thankful for Freshman Advantage is the friendships I have with the people who went through it with me. Hallie is one of my very best friends, sorority sister, and biology partner who I met through Freshman Advantage.

I also have people across campus who are in the same organizations as I am who became friends with me because we met at FA. It was so nice to come to campus knowing many other students in my class, but I had no idea that those people would still go to lunch with me and help me out with my coursework four years later.

Professor Relationships. I really enjoyed the classes I took at Freshman Advantage, and it wasn't really the content that got me hooked. Yes history is important but it really isn't my cup of tea. The teachers I had during Freshman Advantage made me excited to learn. Although I never took another class with Dr. Carrie McCray or Shawn Hull, I have stayed in contact with both of them. In fact, Dr. McCray and I catch up regularly and she offers me great advice about what I should do with my future!

Class sitting at tables arranged in U, instructor teaching

This is our Deaf Culture class. The instructor is Dr. Carrie McCray

Class Credit. If I had to choose, getting 7 credits out of the way was the greatest advantage of FA. It set me up so that I had several common studies requirements taken care of, and I did not have to take up room in my schedule.

I just registered for my final semester of college (talk about crazy!) and I was able to sign up for things that I just want to take. They aren't requirements for my major or any of my minors, but I've always wanted to take a tack construction class--because I got those common studies out of the way, I have plenty of room to take the things that I want to take!

Whether you live in Missouri or even another country, I strongly suggest you look for programs like Freshman Advantage during your college search. It certainly made a big difference in my college experience.

If you've already got your heart set on William Woods, don't hesitate to sign up! It was one of the greatest decisions my family made. I only hope that wherever my sister ends up she gets the same opportunity!

Thanks for reading!



What Makes a Best Friend


My best friends (from left to right): Taylor Oestreich, Mariah Wheaton, Lindsey Cornelius, me, and Sam Harris.

The picture above is of me and some of my best friends here at William Woods University! We all mentored the Freshman Advantage summer program here at William Woods in 2013 and 2014. These people are the best friends a guy could ask for. Together we are a family. We slingshot water balloons, watch scary movies, play pranks on each other, laugh until we cry, and have each other's backs through thick and thin! What makes a best friend? You're about to find out!


Humor is the basis for many friendships. People love to laugh and be around people that make them smile. My friend Taylor Oestreich (far left), has the greatest sense of humor the world over. When Taylor and I are around each other, we tend to laugh all the time, even during the most inopportune moments (meetings, class, etc.). We have fun dancing like goofballs to our favorite song or launching water balloons across campus with a slingshot. It's hard to find a serious moment when we are together. Laughter and fun is what keeps friendships going strong!


Best friends are present because they want to be, not because they have to be. Whether that is cheering you on at a sporting event or helping you out with a tough decision in life, a best friend is there. Mariah (first from left), has always been there to support the people that she loves in whatever they may be doing in life, me included. Mariah has a lot of love to give and cares about her best friends unconditionally. She would do anything she could to support other people, and that is what makes her great! Being there for your friends and family is of the utmost importance.


A best friend is someone who knows who you are and won't judge you based upon your mistakes. Whether it is what you are wearing today or the embarrassing moments that occur in college life. Lindsey (second from left) has witnessed me and my dorky friends make more mistakes and poor decisions than most. A best friend understands that even though people make mistakes, they are still good on the inside. Best friends are able to keep secrets and be honest. When you need sound advice, you can always turn to a best friend like Lindsey.


This is perhaps the most important and least common quality to find in a friend. The ability to listen with complete acceptance without interruption or advice. Sam (far right) listens with an open heart and is fully present. A best friend is always down to listen to what is happening in your life and, when asked, give opinions or advice. A best friend is willing to put down their cell phone and engage in a real conversation with someone they care about.

You can find all of these qualities at William Woods University. I have been fortunate enough to befriend some of the finest people at WWU, and, in my opinion, the best friends in the world.


Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s Off To Work We Go!

Hey again! This is the time of year when applications go out for all the campus jobs, so I thought I'd take this time to talk about some of the many student employement opportunities we have here at The Woods! I know the "poor college student" stereotype is overwhelmingly prevelant, but there ARE ways to combat it so you have ways to fund your various activities during college! While some students do have jobs off campus, there are many jobs available to students right here on campus. These campus jobs will be the focus of my blog today.

Alicia Delaney and Darian Lightfoot, two of the CAs in the Alpha Chi House!

Alicia Delaney and Darian Lightfoot, two of the CAs in the Alpha Chi House!

"Work Study" is probably the most common job for students on campus. Work study is needs-based and takes a variety of forms. Every year, students fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). This form synthesizes all the info about your family's income and assets and determines how much "federal student aid" your family qualifies for, which in turn regulates how many hours per week you can work and how much money you can earn during every semester. These work study jobs come in many different shapes and sizes. Sometimes, students choose to work as assistants in the department of their majors (such as the ASL/Interpreting dept or the Theatre dept, for example). Other times, students choose to work in independent departments, such as the campus library or in the Fulton community daycare that is housed on campus. The position of Community Advisor (CA) is also a work study position. There is a CA on every floor of every residence hall on campus. CAs basically act as the go-to person for everyone on their floor. For example, if their residents need a lightbulb replaced, the CAs will contact maintenance for them, or if two roommates are having difficulties, the CAs will help them find a solution. CAs also host a social event for their hall every couple weeks. It can seem like a lot of work sometimes, but I know many students who have been CAs for several years and have absolutely loved it!

There are several other jobs on campus that aren't part of work study. These jobs are available to all students, including students who come from higher-income families that may not qualify for government aid. The first one of these jobs I want to talk about is University Ambassador (UA). I touched on this in my post two weeks ago. UAs are the students that host you, the prospective student, and your families when you come to visit William Woods! We give you tours, we host you for lunch in Tucker, and sometimes we host you when you stay overnight on campus! Lindsey Cornelius, Joanie Ryan, and I are also blogging this year as part of our UA job. I have been a UA for two years now, and I have loved every minute of it. I love meeting new students and talking about my favorite university. If you like meeting new people, this could be a great job for you!

Jamie Lanagan, one of the telecounselors, having fun in the photography lab!

Jamie Lanagan, one of the telecounselors, having fun in the photography lab!

Phonathon and Telecounseling are the next two jobs I want to discuss. If you don't mind talking on the phone, these jobs would be right up your ally! Phonathon involves current students calling William Woods University alumni to see if they would be interested in/are able to donate money to William Woods. We're proud to say that William Woods is one of the few universities that is entirely debt-free, and part of the way we maintain that is through the donations of people who have had first-hand experience with how great WWU is! Telecounseling, on the other hand, involves calling students who are still in high school that have expressed some interest in William Woods. Students who work this job call high school students to invite them to campus visit days, remind them of application deadlines, etc. New students are the life-blood of every university, so the importance of encouraging interest in WWU cannot be underestimated!

Finally, I want to talk about my two favorite jobs ever: Freshman Advantage Mentor and Peer Mentor! Freshman Advantage (FA) is a three-week summer program in June that is open to any and all students who have just graduated high school and are planning on attending WWU that August. During these three weeks, the freshmen have the opportunity to take a couple common studies courses to get those out of the way, familiarize themselves with campus, and meet several other freshmen as well as some upperclassmen, which is where the job opportunity comes in. Every year, WWU hires

Last year's FA Mentors all dressed up for costume dodgeball!

Last year's FA Mentors all dressed up for costume dodgeball!

several upperclassmen to work as mentors during this program. In addition to being available to tutor the freshmen in any given subject, the mentors are in charge of organizing and conducting a different social event every single night as well as the weekends. I absolutely LOVED working as an FA mentor last summer. I also really enjoyed working as a Peer Mentor the year before. Peer Mentors serve basically the same purpose as FA Mentors, but on a slightly smaller scale. Every incoming freshmen is required to take a class called "connections," which essentially serves as an "intro to college" course. If you attend FA, you take connections then. If you don't, you'll take connections during your very first fall semester on campus. Peer Mentors are upperclassmen who sit in on connections during the fall semester and are there to offer a student perspective on anything the teachers discuss in class. I love getting to act as a role model for others, so working as a mentor was one of the best experiences of my life!

I guess the moral of the story is simple: you don't have to be a poor college student! Obviously, there are many different opportunities to work on campus. The types of jobs available are as varied as the students that attend this university. No matter what your interests are, you will be able to find something that is right for you!


Gaining an Advantage at the Woods

How did you spend your summer?  Were you stationed by a pool, beach, or swim dock?  Did you travel and go on all new adventures?  Did you slave countless hours for minimum wage or did you earn credit at an internship?  Whatever you did, I’m not sure it could compare to how I spent my summer at William Woods University’s Freshman Advantage!

basic design fa

FA students Alexis Binkley and Lori Nichols holding up their finished t-shirt projects in Basic Design!

When classes let out and the residence halls closed in May, I packed up my belongings and said tough goodbyes to my friends and my home-away-from-home, WWU.  All of my friends and classmates would linger after their finals just to take in as much of the Woods that they could until next fall.  Although I was sad to go back home, I knew Freshman Advantage was in less than a month and I would have the opportunity to return to campus for a month of fun, friends, and soon to be family!

fa zach

During an event, the FA students helped make a banner! Here is Zachary Likens laying down his hand print.

What is Freshman Advantage?  Freshman Advantage, often shortened to FA, is a kick start program for graduated high school seniors that plan on attending William Woods University.  The program gives students real insight into what college is really like!  For starters, students at FA take seven hours of class in three weeks and live in the residence halls.  It’s a great opportunity to meet some of your future classmates as well!

My job at FA was to be a mentor and leader for the freshman students.  I was there to tutor students in their classes, coordinate events and activities for the night, and be a friend and a guide.  There was a fun activity planned for every week night.  These ranged from a wiffleball tournament, to tie-dying t-shirts, to sand volleyball.  The events were especially important because we got to learn more about the students and also bond as a group.  On the weekends, we went off campus for activities like the St. Louis Zoo, the City Museum and Six Flags. I’ve lived in Missouri my whole life, but I had never visited these places before, so it was a lot of fun to experience St. Louis!

One of my favorite memories as a mentor was on the day of Costume Dodgeball, and all of the mentors got decked out in American flag gear.  We had about an hour of down time and decided we didn't want our costumes to go to waste!  What better way to show off your patriotic pride than standing outside and cheering for the USA?  We made signs that said "Honk if you love America" and stood on the sidewalks for passing cars.  It was so fun to see the looks on the drivers' faces when they saw us!  There was so much honking and waving!  I bet the mentees were embarrassed for us, but we really enjoyed singing and dancing and cheering.  By the time we went for dodgeball, I was so worn out from jumping around that I could hardly even play!

I loved the activities we participated in, but my favorite part of Freshman Advantage, by far, was watching the students grow.  As mentors, we got the chance to observe study habits, social interactions and each student’s interests throughout the month.  Some students came in very shy and left as confident leaders!  Some students came to WWU very uninterested but left as the most involved ones of the group!  Students walked away from FA with the study skills, and true advantage of living as an independent college student.   It was so rewarding to see what FA could actually do.  When I see my mentees across campus now, I cannot help but smile because I am so proud of all their accomplishments!

USA mentors

My mentor family! I had such a great time getting to know this staff! We dressed up in patriotic gear for Costume Dodgeball, and had so much fun playing with the students.

Overall, the only thing I regret about Freshman Advantage is NOT going as a freshman!   So for my closing comments, I would like to invite and encourage incoming freshmen to go out of your comfort zone and sign up for FA.  It was so much fun being a mentor, so I cannot imagine how life changing it could be as a freshman.  If you’d like more information about the program, check out it out at

Have a great day, and I hope to see you June 2014!