By: Drew Aggus

Most students take a very similar path to and through college. Many who go to public high schools are recruited by countless colleges and get dropped off at their four-year universities by their parents.

Once these students are at college, they often join fraternities, sororities, or other organizations; they live on campus, and they go to countless parties. A lot of them really try to make the most of their college experiences and kind of let academics take a back seat in their first couple of semesters.

I took a less traditional path to begin my journey through higher education, as I was homeschooled
from ages 4 to 17.

I was not recruited by any colleges while I was in high school. However, because I was homeschooled,I was able to start college full-time when I was only 16 years old. I did dual-credit, but since I was homeschooled, I just went to class with traditional college students.

I started my collegiate career at a junior college near my hometown, which eventually allowed me to
transfer to Western with over 60 credits under my belt. Starting at 16, I felt I had a higher standard to live
up to, because I did not have to deal with other distractions that many experience. I also felt that I needed to prove myself, being in classes with students at least two or three years older than I was.

In my first year at Western, I only joined one organization: the Baptist Student Union, which opened my
eyes to how many great people there were on this campus outside of my department.

I joined a few more during my second and final year. This helped me get even more involved on campus, and I finally understood why so many other students wanted to join numerous organizations.

I made academics my main focus during my early years of college, and I am so glad that I did. This focus carried over as my classes got harder and I started getting involved in more organizations throughout my
time in higher education. I was able to balance my time well between homework and on-campus activities.

There are lots of students, many nontraditional, who are working their way through college. Some even have their own families. There are some students who are here based on their academic merit from their high school.

There are student-athletes; students who go to to parties every night; students who aren’t involved with any organizations; students who only take night classes; students from various countries with different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds; and even a few students who are 16-year-old homeschoolers
taking dual-credit classes on campus.

There are over 5,000 people from all over the world taking 5,000 different paths to get their degree
at Western. Those of us who are graduating are about to continue on paths that are even less alike as we
move all over the globe to gain new knowledge, have new experiences and earn new opportunities.

As a number of us are about to get the bittersweet experience of walking across that stage, more hardworking students are going to be lucky enough to continue getting their education through Western.
And as the many of us graduates say our goodbyes, we will never forget the experiences that Western has
allowed us to live through.

Your college years really are the best years of your life, especially if you are lucky enough to experience them as a Griffon.