by Samantha Farrow
Change is never easy, and the transition from high school to college can be downright scary. University of New Hampshire at Manchester freshman Billy Duval can attest to that. In just a few short months, however, he has discovered opportunities that have not only helped ease his fears, but have actually brought him a sense of comfort.
As a student at Goffstown High School, Duval knew he wanted to become a lawyer. He was involved in Latin Club and focused his studies on social science classes. His senior year came quickly, and the idea of college was intimidating.
"I was lost during that time,” Duval said. “I didn't know what to look for or what to expect."
Enter Duval’s guidance counselor extraordinaire, Cheryl Serodio. Not only did she help him narrow down his choices, but she also assisted with the necessary paperwork.
“The college process is daunting,” Serodio said. “The vulnerability [students] feel about possible rejection is scary. They are leaving the ‘nest’ and flying into uncharted waters. Billy experienced all of those emotions, but knew when to ask for help and how to make use of the resources available to him.”
UNH Manchester quickly rose to the top of Duval’s list. It provided close proximity, was financially feasible and had small class sizes – everything he felt he needed to have a successful college experience.
After deferring admission for one year to work and save money, Duval began his freshman year in fall 2014. Pursuing his path to a law career, he joined the Politics & Society program. He was nervous at first, feeling like he needed to step up his game in college. In particular, he doubted his writing skills, which led him to discover the Center for Academic Enrichment (CAE).
The CAE offers students tutoring, time management guidance, help with test and note taking, placement testing, assistance for students with disabilities and support for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). The CAE has helped Duval write more effectively by teaching him to organize his thoughts and keep them relevant to a thesis.
“When in doubt, go to the CAE,” Duval said. “It will help. It will make a difference.”
When his first grades came in, and he saw he did well, Duval was able to breathe a sigh of relief. He said he had doubted himself initially, and those grades helped him to relax and settle in.
Duval also credits the small student-faculty ratio for his success. He said smaller classes have allowed him to be more involved, something he loves and recognizes as the best environment for him to learn in. His success, he said, would not have been as likely at a university with large classes.
“[At UNH Manchseter] the professor will know your name,” Duval said. “It’s nice to be in a class where your presence matters.”
As he pursues his degree, Duval looks forward to becoming more immersed in campus life. While he is happy to not have the distractions of dorm life, he is equally excited to spend more time on campus. He said there’s a level of familiarity, of community, that sets UNH Manchester apart.
“You can become a great part of this campus culture,” Duval said.
And he is enthusiastic to do just that.
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