While her friends were debating the relative merits of various University of California campuses late last winter, Sonoma Valley High School senior (now college freshman) Lindsey Slack was sorting through acceptances from a long list of state universities across the Southern and Midwest states.
She narrowed her finalists to Auburn University (Alabama), the University of Alabama and the University of Missouri.
After a whirlwind tour of the campuses, Slack chose Missouri and in the middle of August, she (accompanied by her mother Diane Barker) began her freshman year at the institution fondly known as “Mizzou.”
“Being born and raised in Sonoma, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to study outside of California,” said Slack. “I love to travel, see new areas and college seemed to be a great way to be somewhere new and different.
She was looking for a university with solid values, big sports, a fun and active college town, great academics, students who are passionate about their school and a strong Greek system. Slack quickly realized that the Midwest and the Southern universities had all of those traits, so she narrowed her search to that part of the country. According to Slack, the University of Missouri had it all, including a great nursing program with an enormous teaching hospital right on campus.
Her first visit to campus came right after a huge blizzard. Despite the freezing cold, she loved the campus and even bought her senior prom dress at a shop in Columbia and had it shipped to Sonoma.
Slack’s first week on campus in August was dedicated to sorority recruitment, in which close to 2,000 girls participated. Slack said, “It was nerve-wracking, fun, scary, exciting and exhausting all at the same time.” In the end, she was asked to be a member of the sorority that had been her top choice from the beginning. “Being a part of the Greek system will be a huge part of my social life freshman year and I’m looking forward to all of it.”
In terms of the academics, Slack was most surprised by how different a college schedule is from being in high school. “Every day is different, with big gaps of free time on some days and other days completely packed with classes. Some classes are held in huge lecture halls and some are very small. On the second day of school, I was offered a part time job at the University hospital, which is a two minute walk from my dorm. Because I am studying to be a nurse, this will be a convenient way to get some great hands-on experience.”
Slack was randomly assigned a roommate through the university. “I was so excited to find out who she was and what she was like,” said Slack. Their dorm is one of the oldest on campus … a small double room with big closets and, thankfully, she said, air conditioning.
So far, Slack has noticed that a completely different part of the country means different clothes, hairstyles and accents. A pleasant surprise has been great interest in California among her classmates.
“When I tell them where I am from, they are so excited and want to know everything about it. They think my life must be really different from theirs. Many girls grew up close by, so when I first moved in I was nervous it was going to be hard to find friends but everyone has been really nice and open.”
University of Missouri’s mascot is Truman the Tiger, named after President Harry Truman who was from Missouri. The school colors are black and gold. “Homecoming” is said to have originated there, with the first official homecoming in 1911. The university is perhaps best known for its journalism school and its nursing school, but it is also known for its sports teams and for the great appeal of Columbia as a college town.