Editor’s note: Having just graduated high school, traditional students may seem eager to embrace the next chapter in their educational journey – college. But that’s not always the case. Going through the processes to pick the college they want to attend can seem daunting, then comes actually attending the classes so they can get a degree. Shane Hull, a current sophomore at Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP), has been through the processes and will be sharing his story in this column and subsequent columns in the coming months to provide insights into the higher education processes for others like him who are embarking on their own collegiate journey. Hull works part time on several projects in the MSU-WP university communications office.
I grew up in Bloomfield, Mo., a small town right above the Bootheel. I had a very small graduating class in 2022; we had fewer than 100 students. Bloomfield is a place where everybody knows everybody and when you misbehave at school, it’s your responsibility to call your momma and explain yourself! With my high school class sizes being as small as they were, college was always a scary thought for me because I would be going from a high school that was quite literally a single hallway with classrooms on each side, to a lecture hall filled with thousands of students and professors who didn’t even know my name.
I had worked throughout high school to earn the A+ scholarship, but not a lot of colleges in the Bloomfield area accepted it. Graduating from high school, I was 100% certain that I was going to be a teacher, and Missouri State University (MSU) was my first choice. I had planned to go straight to Springfield after graduating high school. I wanted to move a bit away from my hometown so I could get the true “college experience” where I lived on campus and had my own space to grow.
However, I knew I needed to use my A+ scholarship. I worked hard for it, and it would cover the costs of my classes through my first two years of classes, if I went to a school that accepted it. It was at that time that my family and I sat down and researched all the schools in the area that accepted my scholarship. It was there at the dinner table that we found Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP). After finding out that MSU-WP is a sister campus to MSU in Springfield, the decision was an easy one and I scheduled a campus visit.
I was taken on a tour of MSU-WP by two Student Ambassadors (a group in which I am now a proud member), and after hearing about everything the campus had to offer and seeing just how beautiful it is in the winter, I decided that MSU-WP was the campus for me. I went to the campus’ website, WP.MissouriState.edu, and filled out an application for admission — a FREE one at that! After a few of what felt like the longest days of my life, I got an email saying that I was accepted!
I then got my information to log into MyGrizzlyDen, which is the student portal for MSU-WP, and I filled out the scholarship application. On that application, I only had to fill out my information once to be eligible for SO many donor and institutional scholarships! It was on that form that I marked I was interested in the Student Ambassadors program, and now I get to represent an amazing campus that I love dearly and show prospective students what makes MSU-WP so great!
My next step was to attend S.T.A.R. Orientation, where I met with my advisor to set up classes for my first semester. I also met some of the MSU-WP faculty and staff and learned more about the campus’ processes and procedures. One section of S.T.A.R. Orientation that I was VERY grateful for was the financial aid information! Financial aid is one of THE most stressful parts of college. It was the first time I have ever had a large bill in my entire life! The lovely staff of Cass Hall, the MSU-WP building that houses financial aid, however, helped me get all my scholarships lined up and showed me how I could find out how much I owed for my classes.
The final step on my journey to becoming a Grizzly was to move into the Grizzly House, the campus’ residence hall! I was worried about how I would get along with my roommate, but there was a personality test I filled out when I submitted my housing application, and I was matched with someone who had similar interests to mine!
When I got to the dorm, my roommate had not yet arrived, as he was at a concert with his family. Once Dalton moved into the room, we quickly became good friends. We were both part of the Student Ambassador program and we played the same video games! We talked nearly all night getting to know each other that first night, and that was the beginning of a friendship that’s still very strong to this day! We are still roommates, and we plan on getting an apartment together when we move to Springfield to attend Missouri State!
I’ve heard horror stories about people and their roommates, but I can safely say that MSU-WP did an amazing job matching Dalton and I as roommates! We have similar interests, but we also have different interests that we have taught each other about!