The Academic Equestrian: Choosing the Right School
Haley reflects on why she chose her college.
It’s a common misconception that academics are really the only important thing to consider in choosing a college. While that’s ultimately why I’m here, I can’t attribute all of Alfred University’s charm to its academic programs.
When I made my decision to come to school here, several people seemed shocked or even affronted that I had chosen this school. One of my teachers in high school even went so far as to say, “You’re going to Alfred? That’s a party school! You won’t learn anything there, it will be a terrible influence!” Others have looked at me suspiciously and told me that I was only going there because of the riding team. I would like to frown on those people for presuming that they could do my thinking for me, and also for judging a college by its supposed lack of any other merits besides booze and horses.
I would like to share a surprising and little-known fact: every college is a party school if that’s what you’re focused on. And while the riding team was a draw for me, there were several other schools with riding teams that I might have considered.
In my opinion, you get out of college what you put into it. If I had wanted to skate by at Alfred with straight Cs and extensive knowledge in the best places to party, that would be possible. If I had wanted to spend every second of spare time at the barn and neglect other opportunities, I could have done it. However, I’m not here to put in minimal effort and “do my four years” just to rush out with a degree and find a mediocre job. The difference is that I have the freedom to do as I please and to decide what I value in an education. I know that there are ample opportunities for me here, I know that the English literature and writing program is as strong as any, and I know that I can improve myself through an education here.
I chose Alfred University partially because of academics, location, the equestrian team, size, cost, and various clubs and sports offered here. I also chose it for less-concrete reasons: I feel at home here, I love the diversity of ideas and kindness I’ve found on campus, and the riding trails around the barn offer the perfect getaway for a girl and her horse when things get crazy.
Haley Ruffner is attending Alfred University, majoring in English and minoring in Business and Equestrian Studies. She has a green Quarter Horse, At Last an Invitation “Cricket,” and he is also “enrolled” at Alfred. She rides western and hunt seat and also loves to rein and trail ride.
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