Reflections from a College Freshman
As a new class of MTCA high school seniors says a bittersweet farewell to one alma mater in pursuit of another, several students in our Degree DC program sound off with college advice, encouragement and experiences for their successors. This week, we caught up with Burkina Cooper who just wrapped up a difficult freshman year at Virginia State University.
“I wasn’t affected by having to be a freshman all over again. I was actually excited to start over, but it ended up being nothing like what I thought it would be like,” said Cooper.
The business management major shares she had no doubts about VSU because she knew she wanted to attend an HBCU, and she didn’t want to travel too far from home.
“It wasn’t too far, and it wasn’t too close. And when I visited the campus, I liked it,” said Cooper. “I didn’t want to go farther than Virginia. I like being in the DMV area.”
The excitement of meeting new people and enjoying the college experience was short-lived as old friends became new enemies and the roommate blues began to play out for her.
“I came in with four people I knew. I still talk to two of them. My best friend and I don’t speak anymore,” said Cooper. “And living in my room with my roommate was the worst. I didn’t like going outside of my room, and I didn’t like being in my room.”
Although she admits to having a rough first year of college, she sheds a hopeful light on the remaining possibilities for her future.
“What I got from this year was figuring out what I want and what kind of people I want to surround myself with,” said Cooper. “I applied to Marymount and VCU, but I’m not sure where I’ll be going. With both, I really feel I’ll be around some very open minded people. I just definitely want to meet some positive people.”
Cooper had no tuition or budget issues. She and her mom took out loans which covered the remaining costs from a scholarship she received along with money from the DC Tuition Assistance Grant. However, she offers precious jewels of advice to the new class of college freshmen.
“Choose wisely. I never got a chance to go to a diverse school, so I took the mindset from high school to college of not caring about being at a diverse college. When I went to VCU to visit, it was diverse and everybody was being themselves. And it was in the city. I’m from the city; I should’ve thought about the location before I went to school,” she said. “I just say people really need to think about where you want to go. Not because you know somebody. Sometimes it’s good to go where you don’t know anybody and start over.“
Cooper is motivated by her mother who just graduated with her business degree this year. They plan on going into business together by opening a parking lot. With four business classes already in the bag at the end of her freshman year, she’s well on her way to making that plan a reality.