Advice to future students from a graduating senior

Dear Future Bobcats, 

As my time at Lees-McRae comes to an end, it is my pleasure to reflect on my short time at the college.  

I transferred to Lees-McRae for my junior year, majoring in History. Coming to Lees-McRae during the pandemic in 2020 was definitely a new and challenging experience. Attending a new college is already an adjustment but attending college during a pandemic added an extra layer of difficulty. Having certain classes virtually, not being able to physically interact with other students, weekly COVID-19 tests for athletics, and many more hurdles that affected the everyday life of students all made an already tough change even harder. Through it all, however, Lees-McRae helped me grow in ways I never imagined.  

Being a native of Birmingham, Alabama, it was a new experience for me to be in an area that is so cold. I had to make certain adjustments and sacrifices in my experience at the college that will help me in the future to be able to succeed in any environment. Coming to this school was a completely different experience from my first two years in college, but one that prepared me to handle any obstacles I face later.  

If you want to know how to make the most out of your time in college, here are a few tips I will leave you with on how to have the best experience possible at Lees- McRae: 

Get out of your comfort zone

As stated previously, going from a hot state to the mountains was a tremendous challenge for me to adjust to. I never completely got comfortable with all the snow, but I began to get used to the cold and embrace the fact that it was all right to slip and fall a few times on the ice. Also, having a small class size can be new to some people in college, but for me it was good to have an intimate setting in classes. These smaller classes allowed for more impactful conversations and interesting discussions. Approach attending the school with an open mind and allow yourself to be uncomfortable in certain situations.  

The best part about the college is arguably its uniqueness compared to other schools. Take advantage of the unique opportunities by embracing the challenges and growing in ways you never could have grown anywhere else. For example, I decided to take a hiking yoga class for one of my outdoor required courses, and it turned out to be one of my favorite classes of my time at the college. I had never been hiking before, but I could see myself doing it more in the future because of that experience. Try new things, have fun, and watch out for the bears. 

Stay active on campus

I did my best to try to stay busy on campus. I played basketball, ran track, joined a club, and picked up an internship with the Marketing and Communications Office—all while maintaining a 3.98 grade point average. Whatever you decide to do, be active on campus the best way you know how (without jeopardizing your grades, of course). Even though the school is small, there are many opportunities for different types of people to succeed in their own way. Banner Elk is a very welcoming community to students. Take advantage of talking to professors and people in the surrounding community to let your presence be known.  

Be yourself

Lastly, never change who you are. College is a time where many people come to terms with their identity. Whatever you are passionate about and value in life, continue to value this during your time here. This tip might sound cliché, but it can help you through certain situations to never forget who you are. No experience will ever be perfect but try to never change your values and morals as a young adult preparing for the real world. People will always remember you for being genuine. Let your light shine in any way you know how. 

Coming to Lees-McRae for my last two years of college was a very transformational experience for me. I am blessed for the opportunities that it created for myself, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without experiencing each unique step of the way. Embrace the mountain and the mountain will embrace you. No matter where I go in life, I will never forget Lees-McRae College. Leave your mark on the school and have fun while doing it. As I prepare to get my degree from the school, I am thankful for every step of my journey. 

Go Bobcats!!! 

By Brian Sims ’22May 06, 2022
Campus LifeAcademics