An Eventer Looks at Colleges

Junior year is known by many as the most stressful year in high school. This is the year when classes get hard, you are prepping for senior year and college, and you start to realize that there really isn’t that much time until “the future.” So far, it’s not that bad with my classes, but what is really overwhelming to me is all of the “thinking about the future.” In this post I’ll share with you my thoughts about the college process and my experiences to far, and I hope that others are able to relate.

I am just in the beginning of my college search; I have visited four fairly local schools so far. With each school that I’ve visited, however, it seems that I just feel more confused! I’m not sure that it’s supposed to work like that… I have so many ideas of what I think I’m looking for in a college in my head, but after each visit, those ideas shift until I’m not even sure what I want anymore.

One of the hardest parts for me is the fact that most schools don’t have eventing teams. There  are plenty of schools with IHSA teams, but very few with eventing. It’s understandable because for eventing you need your own horse, and for IHSA, you don’t- but it’s still frustrating. I’m not sure if I would be happy doing IHSA or not. Right now I feel like I would enjoy it. Obviously it’s very different from eventing, but I think I would enjoy the team atmosphere, and it would be something to help my position and become a more versatile rider.

Another decision I will have to make is whether I want to bring my own horse, compete on an IHSA team, look specifically for a school with an eventing team, or not compete at all and just be on a team recreationally. The one thing I am sure about is that I definitely don’t want to go to a college with absolutely no equine programs, whether that means it has a major or minor in equine studies, an equestrian team, or a barn on campus. That way even if I don’t bring my own horse or ride on a team, I can still have the barn atmosphere to be around or just ride for fun. I think I would feel a little lost without riding, since it’s been such a huge part of my life for over 10 years now.

The four schools that I have visited so far each have their own positives and negatives. For example, with some schools I liked their equine programs, but I didn’t feel like I fit in with the student population. With others, I liked the campus, but not the majors or courses offered. The list goes on and on. I just keep thinking about how it would be so much easier if I could just combine different aspects of  each school and create my perfect school! My ideal school would be something with a small to medium population (about 2,000 to 7,000 students), an equine program, a busy town or small city, and good educational programs. I am hoping to do something in the equine media field (read more about that here), so I think it would be best to go to a school that has a major in something related to communications and media or journalism. I still have to do more research about which major would be best; I’m not sure whether it would be better to have a more general major (such as English) or a very specific major (like an actual equine media major). As you are probably already thinking, there’s no way I’m going to get all of this in one college. I feel like I’m on an episode of House Hunters where the people say, “I want a modern, 3,000 square foot open floor plan, with 7 bedrooms and 8 bathrooms, all new appliances, a huge yard, within 5 minutes of my work and 5 minutes from everything else I do, oh, and all under 200,000 dollars.”

So, I’m going to have to do some research, talk with some people, and figure out what my priorities are. Hopefully I will be able to figure out which schools I want to look at that are further away, and we can make some trips to different places. If you have gone through or are going through the decision of colleges, please leave a comment below about what your strategies were or what helped you through this stressful time.

16 thoughts on “An Eventer Looks at Colleges

  1. Abi

    Looking at colleges can be tough, but you will know the perfect one when you go there and it feels like home. I am a hunter, but I went to several schools with great IHSA teams, thinking that was all I wanted. I was going to go to VIC (good thing I didn’t 🙃). The next week I visited St. Andrews. It was warm and pretty, everyone was so kind, the barn was great, and it just felt right. They have a really good team, not THE best but one of the top 10-15 in the country.

    Keep visiting schools is my best advice. The more you visit, the more you learn, and the closer you get to finding the perfect one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes visiting helps a lot! There is so much you can see from visiting that you would have never known otherwise. I hope to visit as many as possible, and I’m glad that I’m starting to look as a junior.


  2. Keely

    Definitely no perfect college out there! I only visited one, James Madison, and for the longest time thought it was my dream school. I just applied to college (and hear back tomorrow), and James Madison didn’t even make the top 3. Things change!
    First, I looked for my major (which changed as I was applying insert eye roll), and different from you I wanted a large school that was in state but far enough away from home. There was one that I really liked (George Mason), but it was a bit close and small, although I didn’t rule it out. My ideal school is Virginia Tech but I didn’t figure that out until my senior year of high school. It’s a hard decision, but remember that the EDUCATION is the most important thing while student life is close behind it.
    Also, if the school doesn’t have an Eventing team, it might have a club! VT has an Eventing club so most of them bored at the same barn and go to competitions together! I also grew up in ISHA (it was AIRC) so I’m not a fan of the hunter world as it has changed and I never really fit in with the people. I still compete in the hunters but I ride with an old school trainer who has the same basics as Eventing (or any discipline in my opinion), so it’s easy to switch back and forth! You could also see if there is an Eventing barn close to the school/s you are looking at it the school doesn’t have a team! Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Madlen Lesesne

    Have you looked at Randolph Macon College? It is a small (around 1,500 students) liberal arts school in Ashland, Virginia. I am a senior and the captain of the Eventing team. The school recently purchased a beautiful farm that is 3 miles from campus with 70 acres of beautiful turnout, 35 stalls, 2 outdoor arenas, 1 indoor, and great space for hacking and trot sets. We ride full time with four star eventer Ashley Adams, and are within 1.5 hours of 5 cross country schooling facilities and events. We also offer the opportunity to go down to Ocala with Ashley to ride and compete during the school’s January term. Feel free to email me if you’d like more information, but all in all RMC offers eventers the unique opportunity to have a true college experience while still being able to ride, compete, and improve their riding.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Grace,
    Good luck with your search! One thing I can say for myself is that when I found the “right” school for me…it felt “right.” I am a logical person so that is saying alot. I looked at undergraduate schools all over the country and decided on a small private liberal arts school in Ohio (Otterbein). It had a small town feel with only 3600 students but Columbus was right down the road and had a medium size city feel with all of the amenities (plus Ohio State is massive). I loved my time there and felt a part of the community. I was drawn there because even back in the old days when I went to school they offered eventing and they still do. There are lots of great schools out there so don’t be shy. I traveled over 2000 miles from home to go to Otterbein. On the USEA list of schools there are some great programs with teams (Transylvania, Findlay, etc.) but yes at this time most schools only offer eventing as club sports or it is just a group of like minded eventers that have hung up a shingle to represent their school. I believe most of our Intercollegiate Champions have been from schools like that (Clemson, Georgia, Auburn). I also rode in the IHSA and had a blast but at the time our IHSA team was made up of a bunch of non-hunters like myself. We also tried out western/reining and had a blast! I will say I also attended graduate school at Virginia Tech and it had some great horsey attributes as well. In my mind the hardest part is usually picking your major so you are already ahead of the game. Feel free to call the USEA office if you ever want to pick the brains of our staff members involved with the Intercollegiate Eventing Program.
    Rob Burk

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. I think I am going to consider looking at Otterbein, I have looked at it online but will have to visit. I hope that I will know when I have found the right school. I think that I am a logical person too, so I’m trying to be better about focusing on the atmosphere and people in the school, not just looking at the majors. I will definitely take a look at the USEA list of schools. Thanks again!


  5. Katy

    My daughter and I just looked at Randolph Macon. It’s a small school. The eventing program and team was great! I am not sure about your major. You will have to look into that.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Decisions, Decisions – Murphy's Law of Riding

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