After 1 year of college …

Published 9:46 am Tuesday, June 14, 2011

By Jill Jensen and Morgan Stadheim, staff reporters

When Jeff Thorstad went to college, he still had no idea what career path he wanted to follow.

Samantha Petersen, Iowa State

“I remember the week pretty clearly where they said ‘all right, you need to declare a major’ and I still had no idea,” said Thorstad, who attends the University of Minnesota. “And that was probably the hardest part.”

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Six students who graduated from Albert Lea High School in 2010 met June 2 to discuss what has changed most since they parted ways, and what the most difficult part of leaving was.

“You don’t have as much time to do what you want to do,” said Kate Buringa, who went to the University of Minnesota Morris for the 2010-11 academic year.

Sam Matheson, Luther College

She said she had to focus on schoolwork more because the classes were much harder than the ones she took in high school.

Chelsea Anderson, who transferred from the University of St. Thomas to Minnesota State University, Mankato, said she also had to adjust her study habits.

“Teachers aren’t really there to remind you that you have homework so you have to do it yourself,” Anderson said.

Samantha Petersen agreed that classes like physics and calculus were much harder in college.

“I know from experience that I did take a heavy credit-load and needed to drop some classes,” Petersen, who attended Iowa State University, said.

Chelsea Anderson, Minnesota State, Mankato

But, she said, it all works out in the end if you balance your homework with social activities.

“Just have fun and don’t stay up too late,” Buringa said.

‘When will you be home?’

Upon returning to Albert Lea, Clint Schmidt misses the freedom to come and go as he pleases.

“I have to report a little bit more,” Schmidt, who is a student at the University of Wisconsin Stout, said. “You’re asked ‘are you coming home?’ aren’t you coming home?’ or ‘when will you be home?’ That type of thing. It’s not like you’re bound to those but you’re asked more questions.”

Kate Buringa, U of Minnesota, Morris

Thorstad added that coming back to Albert Lea was hard because of the limited activities available in a smaller population of people.

“Being up in the cities, I found out that there’s a lot more to do,” Thorstad said. “There are more activities. There are more people.”

But the good thing about returning is that little has changed, including his friend groups.

Samuel Matheson agreed.

“Everybody’s different, but you still go back to the same group of friends,” Matheson, who went to Luther College, said.

But Buringa and Petersen said they both only kept in contact with a few of their high school friends.

Jeff Thorson, U of Minnesota, Twin Cities

“It’s hard to stay close with all your friends so you just stay close to some of your friends,” Buringa said.

‘We’re all nervous. We’re all scared.’

Now that Matheson has returned from his first year at college, he said he should have had fewer expectations.

“Don’t go into it thinking I’m only going to hang out with these certain people or I’m only going to take these classes,” Matheson said. “Just go into it with an open mind.”

Clint Schmidt, U of Wisconsin, Stout

Petersen said new students should remember that no one has experienced this before.

“I wish I would’ve realized that everyone was in the same boat I was,” Petersen said. “So, we’re all nervous. We’re all scared. And we’re all just trying to get through it and have fun.”

See interviews with Albert Lea High School graduates after their first year of college.