IN THE SPOTLIGHT
From small town to big university: transitioning into higher education
As part of Inside CU's Student Perspective stories, student writer Steven Bryner presents a regular series following Freshman Ryan Zerfoss throughout his first academic year, and sharing his insights, experiences and impressions with readers. The series will run every other month, beginning with this edition.
Guy Ryan Zerfoss, a freshman in the Environmental Design program, is from Glenwood Springs, Colorado, a small canyon town north of Aspen. He decided to come to the University of Colorado at Boulder during his senior year in high school. CU-Boulder was Ryan's first choice. "It's a good thing I got accepted, because I didn't apply anywhere else," he said.
Ryan's transition has been smooth despite coming from a small town on the Western Slope to Boulder, which is over three times the size and population. "Orientation wasn't as intimidating as I thought it would be," said Ryan. "They took us on a tour of the Environmental Design building and then escorted us into a lecture hall. Mark Gelernter, the dean of the school, came and spoke to us. He told us to expect the program to be hard, but he also said how much fun there was to be had."
So far, Ryan enjoys the Boulder lifestyle. "My family, both immediate and extended, are from here and a few of them still live here," he said. "Also, I have friends here who I've known for years, like you (Steven). That really helps with those home cooked meals."
He finds classes and academics very different from his high school experience. "There are a greater number of students for starters," he said. "This is a much larger scale and I feel this environment is less intimate than my small school back in Glenwood. High school was easier. I didn't have to apply myself as much. Here I have to keep up on my homework and actually study before exams. I'm finding this is also beneficial to me in the end. The professors and instructors seem more involved in the subjects and it makes it more interesting as a student."
Ryan's goals for his first year include involving himself as a member of the campus community. "Ultimately, I want to graduate with a major in landscape architecture, mainly because I want to work with facilities, parks and resources that aren't being used or that are run-down and make them more accessible to the community," he explained. "I think community is important. I want to be involved with campus as well as Boulder's community."
Zerfoss said he would also like to study abroad. "I would like to go to a Spanish-speaking country so I can become fluent in the language," he said. "That's a couple of years away. Right now, I'm applying to CLP (Core Leadership Program) so I can get involved with CU GOLD (a student organization governed and operated by students that offers free aid to the campus community in enhancing and/or developing leadership skills). I think this program will help me develop the skills I'll need to accomplish these goals."
So far, Ryan is having a great time at CU-Boulder and is positioning himself to be a role model for the students who follow him.
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