As the last semester of my undergraduate degree comes to an end, it feels fitting to write about what my college experience has been like. I am a kinesiology major at UW-Milwaukee in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The past four years seem to have gone by fast, but at the same time freshman year feels so long ago!
How did I end up in Milwaukee?
I picked UW-Milwaukee because I originally wanted to be an Occupational Therapist. Milwaukee has an undergraduate degree program called "Occupational Studies" that is a great preparatory degree for occupational therapy. I applied to UW-Milwaukee and was accepted so quickly after applying that I decided to come to Milwaukee and not apply anywhere else!
How did my Educational Plans Change?
I completed one year of the Occupational Studies program and also took classes in the Honor's College. During my first winter break freshman year, I did a one day job shadow in which I shadowed an occupational therapist in the morning and a physical therapist in the afternoon. For the rest of freshman year I debated switching my major, and when summer rolled around I made that leap and chose kinesiology as a preparatory path to physical therapy. I also chose to leave the Honor's College because, although their classes inspired critical thinking, they had a high workload and were not related to areas I was interested in. During the end of my sophomore year, I decided to also get a certificate in healthy aging and have been taking those classes alongside my kinesiology ones.
What is Kinesiology?
Many times when I tell people I study kinesiology, they have no idea what it means! Kinesiology is the study of physical activity. Some examples of classes in this major are biomechanics, exercise physiology, motor development, principles of motor learning, psychological aspects of sport and exercise, sociological aspects of health and wellness, and anatomical kinesiology. This degree provides a solid knowledge base that is beneficial if pursuing physical therapy, which is why I chose it. However, as I'll go into more detail in a future post about how I got into physical therapy school, if I had to do my undergraduate over, I would have picked a different major.
Where Did I Live During Undergrad?
Freshman and sophomore years I lived in the cheaper on-campus dorms (relative to the other dorm options) called Sandburg towers. These tall buildings housed around 1,500 students and were the typical tiny, overpriced dorm rooms. I met my two current roommates through random assignment freshman year and had an awesome mini fridge painted by my mom to look like the Tardis from Doctor Who! Sophomore year we moved to the fancier tower (with a lake view) that was more like an apartment because it had an in-unit kitchen. I think the dorms offered a decent transition from living with my parents to living on my own. However, there were many aspects I did not like, such as paying around $9,000 a year for a tiny room and being evacuated from the building at 2 am because some idiot burned their popcorn and triggered the smoke alarm. My roommates and I were super happy to move out by the end of sophomore year!
Junior and senior year I have lived in an apartment off campus. My roommates and I scored a great deal on our apartment and each only pay around $440 each month including all utilities. Living off campus allows much more freedom than the dorms and encouraged me to explore the city more. Freshman and sophomore year I was always tempted to stay in the vicinity of the campus because I had little reason to leave it. Living off campus got me more familiar with the bus system and made me more comfortable in traveling the city on my own. It was also fun to find furniture and decorate the apartment as we wished. The photos above are from when we first moved in and the place was super empty!
What Do I Think Of the Campus?
Overall, the campus environment is pretty friendly. I have a different view of it now as a senior student living off campus than I did on-campus. The university provides a plethora of welcome events each fall to help students get to know each other, explore the city, and have some fun. I went to many of those events freshman and sophomore year, but after that my participation dropped. The campus itself is nice and contained so you can easily walk across the whole campus in under 10 minutes, which is great for back-to-back classes! There is a wide range of architecture in the buildings, some of which is beautiful and some of which is quite ugly! There are a couple buildings on campus (the Sandburg dorms included) that are just giant cement towers. The weather on campus varies widely. I don't know if it's due to being near Lake Michigan, but we get a lot of wind and fog on campus! There are pockets between buildings that we call wind tunnels because the day seems perfectly nice until you walk through those spots and then you almost get blown away! It looks quite pretty during the summer and fall when flowers are in bloom and the leaves on the trees are turning! Another awesome feature of the campus that I have unfortunately not taken much advantage of is the organization called Outdoor Pursuits! This organization guides you through adventures all over the state and even out of state. Last summer I went on a whitewater rafting trip with them and last fall I did a horseback trail ride. They were great and affordable experiences!
Did I Work During College?
I worked throughout most of my college experience, other than freshman year. Freshman year I worked at a bakery for about three weeks before deciding it wasn't for me. As I adjusted to the workload of college, I started working again at a campus convenience store during fall semester of sophomore year. I quit that in the spring and started working as a barista for a year. Along the way, I started working as a research assistant in a lab on campus and then summer before junior year I got a third job as a student research assistant at another campus organization. Three was a lot in one semester combined with my classes, so now I just have the two research positions. Both are extremely flexible and I am able to work 20-24 hours each week with 18 credits and not cry too much. I am lucky to have found such flexible jobs and would not be able to work that much while taking so many classes if I was not able to set my own hours for the most part. Right now I make enough money to cover my rent, utilities, and groceries while saving a little for graduate school. I recently made the decision to not work during graduate school, so my work situation will be changing soon!
How Am I Paying For COllege?
Almost all of my money for school comes from loans. My first semester of freshman year I was able to pay for everything with my loans, a couple scholarships, and my parents. After that though, it was all loans. My parents pitch in for grocery money and school supplies when they can, but I earn all of my living expenses myself through working. For the last two years of college loans have just gone to tuition. As I mentioned above, however, I have decided not to work during physical therapy school. UWM unfortunately does not offer TA positions, research positions, or scholarships to their physical therapy students, so everything, including my living expenses, will be from loans! Yikes! I am nervous about taking on so much debt, but it is avoidable if I am to keep my sanity and I should have high job security when I finish the program so I can make enough to pay them back.
Thanks for reading a bit about my college experience. If you have any questions, feel free to ask! If you would like to see posts more specific to certain aspects of college, drop me a line! Have a great week!
Hi my name is Emilee and these are my adventures as a young adult living in Milwaukee. Here I will share my experiences as I navigate through college. Thanks for stopping by!