Public high school students share stories about transitioning to Southern

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According to the Undergraduate Statistics for Board Meeting report published by Southern’s Records and Advisement Office, there were 159 enrolled first-time freshmen who came from non-Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) schools to Southern in the Fall 2020 semester. 

The document, which was last updated the second week of the Fall 2020 semester, contains information such as where undergraduate students came from in terms of states, conferences, academies and even their geographical distribution.

Although the document does not display total current numbers for both returning and first-year students, the report gives information about incoming freshmen and the high schools they graduated from. 

According to the report, during the Fall 2020 semester, 98 students came to Southern from a public high school, 21 came from a private non-SDA school, 30 students were homeschooled and 10 students came from a foreign non-SDA school. This made a total of 159 students who came to Southern from non-SDA schools out of 493 total incoming freshmen.

One returning student who came from a public high school is Jasmine Ramirez, a junior nursing major who attended Parkdale High School in Maryland. 

According to Ramirez, there are “differences but also similarities.” 

For Ramirez, the biggest difference coming to Southern was the Christ-centered perspective given to all of her classes. 

“The big change was professors incorporating Jesus in the classroom, and everything being related to God,” Ramirez said. “Everything is God-centered. That never happened in public school.” 

Julia Scriven, another returning student who came from a foreign non-SDA high school, had a similar experience as Ramirez. 

“We never talked about religion in school,” said Scriven, a junior mass communication major who went to high school in France. “I don’t even know if my friends were Christian or not because we never talked about it.” 

This major difference, however, was the reason some students chose to come to Southern. 

“I thought that going to public school, I would lose my way,” said Erin Belgrave, a sophomore nutrition and dietetics major who attended high school through an online program called Georgia Cyber Academy. “I am a better person now than I would have been if I had gone to public school.” 

Another major difference according to Scriven is living in the dormitory and abiding by its rules. 

“I didn’t realize how much freedom I had in high school,” Scriven said. “My first time with curfew was at 18.”

Scriven, who describes herself as growing up very liberal despite always being Seventh-day Adventist, said she sometimes feels like she has to be careful about expressing her opinion because of how conservative and reserved people are at Southern compared to her high school. 

On the other hand, Ramirez explained that despite being an Adventist institution, “you will see people that aren’t Christian or Adventist, and you still see some influences of things that aren necessarily Adventist.”

Although all three students have had different experiences in their different majors, they have all expressed similarities in their high school versus college experiences. 

“[I] can’t say which is better because they are all a part of growth,” Belgrave said. “Everything helps me with the decisions I am making now, so I can’t say it is better.”

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