Your college experience is what you make of it

When it was time for Bethel High School student Adrianne Davidoski to decide where she wanted to go to college, she was stumped. Not only was it unclear to the National Honor Society student where she wanted to go — she also wasn’t entirely sure what she wanted to study. Looking through college catalogs and meeting with her high school guidance counselor helped Davidoski figure out she wanted to attend a large university that offered the “college experience,” but that was about as far as she had narrowed it down.

“I was sold on the big campus, big sports team, lots of activities,” said Davidoski, who had been active in marching band, the dance team, the volleyball team and the school play in high school. “So when my guidance counselor suggested it might be a good fit for me, I enrolled at the University of Delaware.”

Davidoski, a top-20 graduate in her high school class, majored in general business, thinking that at some point she would find something in such a broad curriculum that would interest her. After one semester, one thing became clear: she hated her major, she missed her home and her family, and she preferred her privacy to sharing a dorm room with several other girls.

When she came back to Bethel for winter break her freshman year, Davidoski was worried about what her parents would say when she told them she wasn’t really enjoying college — especially after they had already invested so much money in sending her to Delaware.

“When I told my parents I wasn’t happy there, they actually were so relieved,” she said. “Delaware was more than $32,000 a year and even though I had an $8,000 scholarship grant, my parents had been struggling to figure out how they were going to continue to pay my tuition after the first year. Plus, I had no money for food or laundry or anything,” she added. Fresh fruit was completely unaffordable and quarters became a priceless commodity.

Davidoski spent a good part of that first winter break trying to figure out what she wanted to do. She had always been interested in nursing but had struggled with biology in high school. Returning to Delaware for the spring semester, Davidoski decided to challenge herself and gave biology another try. She excelled at it. That confirmed her desire to study nursing — but where?

She made some phone calls. One of them was to Western’s Department of Nursing, where she reached then-department chair Dr. Karen Crouse.

“I got such great guidance from Dr. Crouse,” Davidoski said. “She talked me through the requirements to transfer to Western and the rigors of the pre-nursing program.”

Davidoski also did her homework. She compared the nursing programs at Delaware, WCSU and the University of Connecticut, taking into consideration class sizes, course offerings and pass rates on the licensing exam for registered nurses.

“Delaware is a good school, but it’s not known for its nursing program at all,” Davidoski said. “So I applied to both WCSU and UConn, but when I saw how much higher the NCLEX pass rates are here — like 100% for the past five years versus eighty-something percent at UConn, I decided there was no reason to pay around $28,000 to attend a school with lower pass rates that claims it is revamping its nursing program. I don’t have time to wait for them to fix their program, especially if Western is already doing it right.”

Davidoski started her sophomore year as a pre-nursing student at Western without financial aid. A year later, she applied for and was accepted into the nursing program. She also was awarded the Tom & Lois Crucitti Nursing Scholarship. Recently hired as a nurse’s aide on the telemetry/cardiac floor at Danbury Hospital, Davidoski said two things helped her land the job: She’s doing a clinical rotation on that floor right now and it just so happens that one of her professors also works as a nurse on that floor and was able to serve as a reference. “It’s not only what you know but also who you know,” Davidoski said. “Western’s connection with the hospital definitely helped.”

Poised to graduate in May 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Davidoski looks forward to continuing the Western tradition of success on the state licensing exam. After that, she’ll take advantage of a U.S. Navy Nursing Scholarship to attend Officer Development School, which will prepare her for her first military assignment and continuing graduate studies as a Navy nurse.

Looking back at her decision to study nursing at Western, Davidoski is confident she made the right choice.

“The amount of time I spend studying, the time in the lab and all the preparation have allowed me to gain a huge respect for nurses and other nursing students because the time commitment is really intense,” she said. “I had no idea that a nursing education would be so inclusive and in-depth, in terms of pathophysiology, medications and anatomy. The more I’m learning, the more I’m loving it!”

And what about that “college experience” she was looking for back in high school?

“At Western, I have better access to opportunities like the trip abroad I took to Spain last summer. I could never have afforded something like that at Delaware, and it helps with my minor in Spanish. The resources here are better, too, with smaller class sizes as opposed to lecture halls.”

 

 

Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.

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