PWSC: Good morning, Jared. Thanks for taking the time to share a little bit about yourself and your experience here at Prince William Sound College.
Jared: I've lived in Valdez my entire life. I just got out of high school last year, and I decided to come here (PWSC) because I kind of needed something to do.
PWSC: What classes are you taking?
Jared: I'm currently taking statistics and communications here, and then I'm taking anthropology, economics, and chemistry online.
PWSC: Are there any challenges with the online classes?
Jared: Yeah. Most teachers put a big message as the first thing you see when you access an online class, stating that it is going to be more difficult than a seated class. They're very difficult. They really are. You wouldn't think so because you think, oh I just get to go on a computer and I don't have to actually attend school. But attending a class and being there with a person makes a major difference. With online classes, you don't have someone to talk to you; you don't have a class to go to. Online college classes are still kind of a new concept, so I think some of those bugs will eventually be worked out.
PWSC: Any advice for a first time students? Have there been some tools that you found very helpful for yourself? Like time management or note taking?
Jared: You know, I tried a lot of tools over this last year. Lots. Some different websites, some different types of note taking styles, and I haven't found anything that works for me yet.
I do have advice in regards to the place you're in, the actual physical location. I feel, at least with the kids I graduated high school with, going to a community college in the town you're in is kind of looked down on. But I'm looking at the financial aspects of it. I feel this was a good choice because I didn't really know what degree I wanted to get right out of high school. And I feel it was a good choice to go to a smaller school to get an idea of how college worked, without instantly dealing with a lot of financial pressure because that is a big deal. And I think that as much as people make fun of you, the small school that’s here was the best choice.
PWSC: So you're going to graduate with your Associates of Arts in general education. I heard you were UA scholar. That's fantastic! How did you qualify for it and how is that helping you financially?
Jared: As a UA Scholar I was awarded a $12,000 scholarship that I can use towards the cost of my education at any of the University of Alaska's 15 campuses. The UA Scholar Award is given to students designated in the top ten percent of their Alaska high school class at the end of their junior year.
It's very nice to receive it if you're going to school in Alaska, and it’s a way to say, you seem smart, so if you stay with us in Alaska, we will help you pay for college. As long as you keep showing that you are into college, they’ll keep giving you support.
PWSC: Have you had any mentors in high school or here at the college, or family and friends that have helped you be successful in school?
Jared: I always have a hard time listing off mentors because I guess I never conceptualize mentors. I definitely have people that help me. I'm currently living with my family. I've moved around quite a bit, but currently I'm just staying with them and that's a big help. And, all the people in the PWSC office. They're all very friendly and they're all very down to earth and realistic. They're people you can communicate with.
PWSC: Is there a good sense of community here?
Jared: I would say there is a sense of community, especially among the staff. At least in my experience there is a pretty good connection with the staff and the students.
PWSC: Being local, are there any hobbies or activities that you would recommend to first time students coming in from out of town?
Jared: So, one thing I know is that a lot of people who come here may think that there isn't very much to do. But I would definitely say the thing that makes up for that is that Alaska is really pretty and there is quite a bit of hiking. There are quite a few trails. There's quite a bit of outdoor stuff to go and see. I would really encourage people to go look around. I've been everywhere because I've lived here for a while, but people just need to go around, go into the woods and on the trails and just see that things look really cool here.
PWSC: I agree. So, do you have favorite classes?
Jared: That’s a good question. Yes, my favorite classes are all face to face because it's just really hard. I wouldn't have told you this when I was in high school, but something I've really developed a liking for here is mathematics. I really like my math classes, which is kind of weird because usually I didn't like math.
Last year I was in a math class online, and even though it was super difficult, I really learned. Interestingly enough, I really liked classes that were more difficult because I felt that, even though they're more difficult, they presented information better. So even though they were harder to do, I felt I had a better grasp on it because I had more information to go off of.
PWSC: So, the more difficult classes presented a challenge, but the way that the information was provided or written was applicable to you and you learned a lot?
Jared: For example, last year I took two classes in particular – an online class on music history and one on environmental science. And both of those were difficult, especially the music class. The environmental science class wasn't too difficult, but they were both very engaging, and in a way they were almost easier to pay attention to.
PWSC: So after you graduate and you're looking ahead, what are your plans?
Jared: I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to do, and I don’t think it’s necessary to know right now. I think that's kind of like every single person on earth, winging it as they go along. That’s not a bad thing. I feel that's kind of just human nature.
PWSC: Sometimes that's all you can do. All of our goals are always so futuristic, sometimes you want to be with the present.
Jared: You need to live life first, understand it. You just have to go along with it. I mean, I take it as it comes.
PWSC: Well I do have one more thing. Do you have a favorite quote, mantra, or something you tell yourself that helps you get by in difficult times?
Jared: I don't really have a quote, but I do have a concept though - discipline. I think I never realized how useful that is until this year. Even if you have no skills in any aspect in life, whatsoever, as long as you have boatloads of discipline, and self-control, you can get really far in life. Even if you are the world's smartest person, if you have absolutely no self-discipline, you're probably not going to go very far.
PWSC: That's really powerful. Well I just want to say thanks again for your time, and congratulations.