“Where do you go to school?” “The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.” “Ohhhh, Baylor, wow!” “Uh, no, not Baylor.” “Sic ’em bears!” “Well actually…”
This is a conversation I have pretty much anytime I meet new people or go home. No one has heard of my little school (that I love). Those that have heard of it know that it’s a very small, private Christian university. They immediately question why I would choose an unheard of private institution in a small town over a huge state school. They also accuse me of being stupid or financially irresponsible for paying private school tuition (though it’s not really their problem), and they also wonder why I’d go somewhere where we are required to attend chapel services & are surrounded by churchy functions. So, in this post, I will answer all of these very things!
Why did I choose the small, relatively unknown University of Mary Hardin-Baylor over schools such as Texas A&M, University of Houston, Stephen F. Austin, etc? Well, it’s not because I couldn’t get I didn’t apply for them- I did, but they weren’t for me. I got in to quite a few state schools, but I applied to more private schools than state because as I toured, I realized that’s kinda what I was looking for. Don’t get me wrong, for a while I had my heart set on A&M because my brother went there and loved it and I enjoyed the traditions, but all it took was one week of nursing camp at UMHB to fall in love with it and put a new dream school at the top of my list. I’m telling you, from the moment I stepped on to this beautiful campus, God said “yes.” It immediately felt like home and like the perfect place for me. Knowing how pricey private school tuition is, I did apply to many schools just in case this one didn’t work out (but I’m SO glad it did). I found UMHB my junior year of high school and had priority early acceptance- I was accepted within 48 hours of applying before my senior year began, so I pretty much knew that that’s where I wanted to be. I fell in love with the campus, the program, the Christian atmosphere and the fellowship and kind people I met, as well as the small little community we have as a campus. Being here at this university has helped me grow in my spiritual walk in ways I could never imagine, and in ways I don’t think I could’ve at any other school. I truly felt God leading me here, and my parents felt the same way, so we knew we’d find a way to make it work (and I’m so so thankful). This school has so many opportunities to grow spiritually and academically & I am still satisfied with my decision to come here and take in all it has to offer. The academics are challenging, but the faculty and professors want you to succeed and are willing to help you and invest in you if you make an effort, plus small classes mean your professor probably actually knows who you are- which is a good thing in my opinion.
Being a person who thrives with more individualized attention in coursework, UMHB was a perfect fit- because I don’t feel like a little fish in a huge pond as I would in a larger public institution. There are so many activities and organizations to get involved in and meet people, which is also amazing. While the small school and community is something I really love, the biggest point drawing me here is the Christian atmosphere. No, not everyone here are super devout christians, as people have different reasons for school selection, but many of the professors and staff are & the school has many Christian traditions and honor codes, and opportunities for Christian fellowship and developing your faith. For me, this is important. As a young Christian whose faith has been newly restored (that’s a part of my testimony), it was very important for me to be surrounded by Christian community to keep me accountable and motivated, so I wouldn’t veer off from my faith or make excuses that opportunities aren’t available to me, and I worried that I wouldn’t continue growing in my faith in the ways that I have since coming to this school.
Through attending my lovely private, Christian school, I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip to the U.K. And serve God’s kingdom with some of my peers and I’m so blessed to have been able to experience that. I would not have had this opportunity had I not followed God’s plan to attend this school. I know what you’re thinking.. that must’ve been expensive! Well, it was, but God always provides when things are according to his plan. I felt called to go on the trip early during my first semester, and continuously prayed about it. I was more and more convinced, so I began fundraising, as I definitely was not in the financial condition to just dish out that money, it wouldn’t happen. Fundraising was tough, but like I said, God provides. My trip was fully paid for via fundraiser (thank you to all who donated/participated, y’all rock) and was the trip of a lifetime. I learned so much about the world, the U.K., myself & Christianity in general. I will hold those memories forever & have found further callings for my return to the beautiful country to continue my services, in God’s timing of course.
To further explain, I truly believe college is an investment. The classes AND the experience AND where you go play a part in shaping who you’re going to be, especially if you do enter college immediately following high school. I’ve taken classes at junior colleges and they’re great- it’s a good way to knock out some credits and save money, and for some people it’s the best option to attend full time while starting their college education, but it wasn’t the plan for me. If I had stayed home and gone to my junior college, sure, I’d have saved money, but I wouldn’t have become so involved, learned how to be more of a “people person,” been surrounded by the Christian community that I am at UMHB, and wouldn’t have learned to be as independent as I have been (though I still have work to do.) so yes, it’s a fantastic option for so many, but I believe I wouldn’t be as happy or successful in my first year had I not taken the leap to move away.
I truly believe God intended for me to be at Mary Hardin-Baylor. I can feel it all the time. It’s pretty unexplainable, but it’s a feeling like no other and it feels so right. It always feel right to be in the middle of God’s will. I’ve tried to ignore his plan for my life and go my own way so many times, but he always takes the reigns and pulls me in the direction he wants me to go, so I had to stop fighting it. I still struggle with this, but since coming to this school, I’ve found great spiritual mentors, accountability partners and wonderful friends who remind me of God’s awesomeness when I somehow seem to forget- and that further tells me how badly I needed to be at this school. I’m growing so much in my faith while preparing for the crazy world of adulthood, and I feel like I truly could not reach MY full potential if I ignored God’s call. I also made so many lifelong friends & had to push myself to be social and make such friends- as I did not know a single person attending this university and had grown up in the bubble of people I’d know my whole life- so I grew up a lot in the social aspect!
Yes, the school is expensive & believe me, I tried SO hard to like other schools more, but I’ll tell you what- when something is God’s will, God has a way of making it happen. You must have faith & do your very best to help yourself and fight for things to work- but God WILL guide you. Everything is according to his will. I’m not telling everyone they should go out and attend a private university or a big university at all, but I do suggest really thinking about your future as you plan to go to college- especially out of high school. Think of finances, education, what you hope to get out of the college experience, about what you want to study & where God is calling you. I applied to 4 private, baptist universities, so it’s safe to say I felt God calling me towards a private school system. And like I said, God makes his plan happen in his timing. If you feel called to make a similar school choice and have no idea how you’ll make it happen- I’ve been there. Pray and work hard. Apply for every scholarship you can & ask God where he’s leading. He helped me make this school a possibility, and took care of financing my mission trip when my family was having financial difficulties. One of the most important things I’ve learned at this school is that GOD COMES THROUGH!
Well friends, I could go on but this post is starting to get longer than most of the essays I’ve had to write in the past year, but feel free to ask me any questions about my school, applying for scholarships or the college application process! I’d love to chat. 🙂 And always remember Jeremiah 29:11-
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you & not to harm you, plans to give you hope for a future.”