Uncommon Conference No. 1: Junior English Education Major
Megan Robertson is a junior English Education major at Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins, Colorado. She is twenty years old and lives with her boyfriend and another friend in an apartment just a few blocks away from the West side of campus. Robertson carries a 3.4 GPA and works in the university’s library. Robertson has a well-rounded resume that includes Ace Hardware, realty, and tour leading.
Megan is also my niece and my best friend (long story... family tree examination coming never).
Robertson grew up in Highlands Ranch, Colorado and attended local public schools. She participated in choir in high school and volunteers annually for Colorado’s Special Olympics. Robertson enjoys crafting (specifically making tutus), the Marvel Universe and gaming.
I got the chance to catch up with Robertson and ask her a few questions about her program and lifestyle.
What do you enjoy most about college? What is your least favorite thing about college?
"What I enjoy most about college is definitely a hard question for me to answer. I’m a big nerd and absolutely love learning. A huge reason that I am wanting to become a teacher is that I never want to stop learning! So, my favorite part about college is that I am still learning and growing as an individual. However, my favorite part of being a person in college is the freedom that college gives me. I get to meet new people every day. I can be in charge of myself and not have to take care of anyone else. As selfish as it sounds, I get to be my own person and do whatever I want (within reason). I love the fact that I can live on my own, pick out what I eat for dinner, stay up as late as I want OR, the more popular decision in my house, go to bed at 10. With this freedom, I feel like a real adult. Which coincidentally is my least favorite part of college. When I was little, all I wanted was to grow up, be an adult, and get to do adult things. Boy was I wrong! I used to think that being an adult meant that I could drive, make my own decisions, and be my own person. What I didn’t expect from being an adult is the debt that comes with college, the expectation of being able to handle everyday issues on your own, and just the pressure. My mom explained it..." [...] "...the best way; adulting is just like being a duckling. On the surface, a little duckling looks cute, calm and just floating along. Under the water, the duck is kicking its heart out to stay afloat. Being an adult comes down to looking calm and collected on the outside, but anxiety and panic-filled inside. I love the freedom I get in college, but man do I wish I didn’t have to be an adult quite yet."
Robertson and her younger brother are fluent in sign language.
While living in the dorms, overall, how was your experience?
"I really loved living in the dorms. The food on campus was good and I never had to cook! It was nice to be on campus because it gave me incentives to always go to class! I also was way more involved on campus when I lived in the dorms. I just generally knew more about what was happening on campus. I think it is a very important step for students. When you get to be on your own for the first time you tend to make very poor decisions. So when you get out on your own, having a residential advisor helps you with roommates, building good habits for school, and it’s just nice to have a half adult if you ever need them."
CSU’s English Education major requires 120 credits, and a grade point average of 2.0 or higher for graduation. However, a GPA of 2.75 is required for admittance into the teaching licensure program; students must be admitted to the licensure program by the end of their fourth semester.
Is the English Education major what you thought it would be? What would you change about your program?
"I didn’t really know what to expect for my English and education programs. I mean I knew I was going to read and write and learn to teach, but past that I didn’t know much. I enjoy my major a lot and I think that I get a lot of real-world applications for both my English and my education classes. Especially now that I am getting into upper-division courses, I can see how they are all connected.
"The biggest thing I would change about my program is the stigma behind being a student in the College of Liberal Arts. Many people look down on others in humanities work, but I think it is the most important thing to study. We study interactions between humans. I think we are the forces that make society run smoothly and the first group that is approached to help solve an issue when society breaks down. I wish that people took an English Education degree just as seriously as an Engineering degree. I will be teaching future engineers, educators, artists, biologists, and any other profession you can think of. Without educators of any kind, we couldn’t have a functioning society. That, and I wish that my professors wouldn’t decide that all of our papers are due in the same week."
Since 2008, humanities majors have seen a steady decrease in declaration; Benjamin Schmidt researched trends of humanities majors and published his findings in August of 2018. “…in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, students seem to have shifted their view of what they should be studying—in a largely misguided effort to enhance their chances on the job market.” (Schmidt 2018).
Is there a college that you wish you would have attended instead of CSU?
"No. I think CSU is the exact place for me. I love the inclusive and welcoming environment on campus as well as the fun environment in Fort Collins. I really enjoy living in a college town like Fort Collins and I am so thankful for the opportunities that I have at CSU."
In addition to having quite a few popular breweries, Fort Collins, CO is the home to some great restaurants. Most eateries here are affordable for college students such as The Waltzing Kangaroo, The Colorado Room, and Avogadro's Number. All of which are within walking distance from campus.
Where is the best place to eat in the Fort Collins area?
"We have two places that we love to eat at. Krazy Karl’s Pizza has wonderful pizza- different combinations but everything we have tried has been good. Loaded fries are the most popular appetizer at my house. We also live within walking distance of the place so that's a huge plus. If you are going out for breakfast food though, nothing can beat the Eggs Benedict at Butters. It’s on a fresh croissant and has homemade hollandaise sauce."
Robertson has a tattoo that is inspired by the 9/11 memorial in New York City.
What kind of experience did you have when it came time to finding off campus housing?
"I got really lucky when it came to living off-campus. I already knew who I would be living with. I also had friends who lived close to campus in an apartment complex that wasn’t too expensive and fit all of the things I and my roommates wanted. The biggest issue was that I was the only person who felt comfortable talking to the rental office lady. So, it really came down to me when we were trying to find a place to live. Luckily I had time one day to go to the office and pick up applications, and now I and my boyfriend have lived in our apartment for 2 years and have changed roommates, but it still has been awesome having our own place and being able to live together."
One- and two-bedroom apartments in the Fort Collins area have cost about $1,200 to $1,400 per month since the beginning of 2019. The city’s vacancy rating tends to hover around 4-5% (Jungle).
Would you recommend the traditional college experience to others?
"I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. I don’t think that everyone is cut out for college and that’s totally okay! Some people don’t like school. That’s okay too! If school isn’t for you then you don’t need to go the traditional college route. Go to a trade school. Enlist in the armed forces. Work full time. Do whatever is going to make the most sense for you. One of my high school teachers told my class “if what you plan to do your first year of college is just party, then you are just going to waste tens of thousands of dollars because you won’t do well your first year. Instead move to a college town, work full time for a year and party to your heart's desire! Then, once you are ready to commit to school and learning, go to college.” I think this is totally true. College is not meant for everyone, a university experience especially. If you think taking a year off is what you need, then go for it! Don’t be a bum that year. Work, travel, enjoy yourself! Then when you are ready and wanting to get a higher education, go for it. If you are ready right out of high school, that’s awesome! However, don’t worry if that’s not you."
There is a time and a place for everything, and it’s called college.
What has been your favorite experience or story so far?
"I don’t know if I could nail down a single experience. Honestly, college has been long, expensive and incredibly difficult. However, I love every second and every opportunity I get here. I have grown so much in the last two and a half years. Every class I have taken has taught me so many things! Every professor and peer, even if I disagree with their points of view, have taught me something. I’ve learned how to live on my own, how to live with my significant other. I have grown up so much! I think the best experience that I have had is just the opportunity to be myself. Explore different ideas and opportunities. My parents always pushed me to be whomever I wanted to be, and the courage that they gave me allowed me to pursue things that I may have been cautious to do. I was a member of the College of Liberal Arts team where I got to give tours of the campus. I now work at the Library on campus. I used to give house tours around Fort Collins. I am now pursuing two different licenses for teaching. None of this would have been possible without the encouragement of my support system of family and friends as well as the opportunities Colorado State University has given me to grow and learn from."
Most minors exiting high school have tried alcohol (81%) or some form of illegal drugs (~56%). It is now common for college orientations to include some sort of alcohol and/or drug education (Social).
What is your opinion on underage drinking and drug use?
"I think that everyone is going to drink or do drugs if they want. I think the more important thing is that kids are taught about drinking and drugs. If they have no idea what can happen, if they binge drink or the damage that drugs can do to your body and developing [your] brain, they will push the limits and get really hurt. So, I think an open dialogue between the student and their support system (parents, other family, friends) about underage substance use is more important than anything!" […] "Don’t hurt yourself. There are a million kinds of booze out there, but only one of you!"
According to Robertson's other aunt, "She can quote every word from Grease [the movie]."
What do you wish you would have known as a senior in high school regarding college?
"I wish I had known how to manage the debt that I have accumulated. Now, comes my personal plug- I want to create a class called “Life Skills 101.” I think this class can be the most valuable class any student can take in high school because it pertains to things in everyday life. For example, we would have a whole unit about automotive. How to change a tire if you get a flat, how to jump-start a car. We would have a personal finance unit. How to manage debt, how to write a check and balance a checkbook, how to build a budget. The most important unit, I think, would be a personal care unit. Not just a physical care (brush your teeth, shower, gets lots of sleep) but an emotional care unit as well. What does a healthy relationship look like? What can I do to help build memory retaining skills? What do good study habits look like? All the things taught in this class would be things that not just college-bound students would find useful. I wish as a senior in high school or at any point in high school I was taught things like this. We prepare students so much for the academic world, but so little for the real world outside of school. I just think that this kind of course would help everyone."
What is the true reason why Professor Trelawny thought that Harry was born in mid-winter?
"I have never read or seen all of the Harry Potter series."
Robertson does not like chocolate.
Is there anything else you would like prospective CSU students or English Education majors to know before embarking on a similar journey?
"Be adventurous and have fun. These are some of the best days of your life. They will be stressful and hard, but they are also going to be times that you look back on fondly."
Update: Robertson will now be graduating with a second major in Communications Education.
Although Robertson will not be receiving an Ultimate Harry Potter Fan Club official jacket, (I don't know how you can call yourself an English major without having read one of the most important, significant, influential and beautiful literary works of all time but whatever) I am so grateful that she took the time to answer these questions. I hope that recording her experiences may entertain and help others in the future.
Jungle, R. (n.d.). FIND APARTMENTS IN YOUR AREA. Retrieved from https://www.rentjungle.com/average-rent-in-fort-collins-rent-trends/.
Schmidt, B. (2018, September 4). The Humanities Are in Crisis. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/08/the-humanities-face-a-crisisof-confidence/567565/.
Social Host Ordinance || Neighborhood Services. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.fcgov.com/neighborhoodservices/socialhost.php.