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My Experience As An LGBTQ+ Student At A Small College

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

A picture taken low to the ground of people walking away from the camera. Only their legs and feet are visible. In the foreground are three pairs of legs. The left and right wear rainbow striped socks and black shoes. In the middle wearing socks the color of the bisexual flag (blue, purple, pink) and white adidas shoes.

Whether you’re out to your entire school or you’re still figuring out your identity, one thing is certain: the college admissions process is nerve-wracking.

I came out as bisexual my freshman year of high school. Throughout my time in college, I’ve grown into the person I only dreamed of being at fourteen.

Now, identifying as a queer individual finishing up their last semester of college, I am overjoyed to be sharing my experiences over the past three and a half years. I hope my story and ‘words of wisdom’ help you in your journey throughout the college admissions process and beyond! 

My College Search Process

I grew up quite close to the school I ended up choosing for college, so I was fortunate to be able to get acclimated to the community and the environment that would be my home for my undergraduate education.

Like any community, there will always be instances of bias and misunderstanding. When I first came out, there were definitely some not-so-positive reactions from some of my classmates. Coming out to my family was another ordeal, but I’m fortunate to have their support today.

Going to a school that was specifically LGBTQ+ friendly was not exactly the top attribute I was looking for when I started my college search. I didn’t have much exposure to queer individuals growing up, and it was hard to understand what I wanted to gain from my college experience when I first started looking at schools.

All I knew was that I loved to write and that I wanted to feel supported and welcomed wherever I decided to attend college.

When it came to touring schools, I learned how important it was to talk to the students there. I would wander around after my tours and ask students for directions somewhere before engaging in conversations about what they liked and didn’t like about the school.

By talking to the students there, I learned about the campus climates and what schools I ended up liking versus not liking. Due to COVID, this could be more difficult, so my recommendation would be to look through the college social media accounts.

You can learn a lot by going through the posts and reading what students are saying about the school. You also get a glimpse into what events are happening on campus. Check out our article here about what to do when you can’t tour colleges in person!

The Most LGBTQ+ Friendly Colleges

My College Experience

Because I went to school that was close to home, it was harder at first to allow myself to explore who I was and meet different people because some people from my high school ended up attending the same school.

Despite this, it was easy to make friends by getting involved! One cool thing about college is that you’ll encounter queer folx in almost any situation.

I met one of my closest friends through our college choir. By getting involved and being yourself, I have no doubt you’ll find the people you’re meant to meet. 

My biggest piece of advice as a result of my college journey: talk to your staff and faculty. I am fortunate to have designated LGBTQ+ resources through the Office of Multicultural Student Support and Success at my school, so if your school also has LGBTQ+-specific center(s) or resources, reach out to the people involved with them.

This helped me the most in my self-discovery and development of my identity. I also met some incredible people and have made life-long friendships as a result!

 

Everyone has a different college journey. Your journey is your own experience with your own set of obstacles and hurdles along the way.

Your high school counselor, teachers, friends, and families are hopefully some immediate resources to help you along the way. I wouldn’t have gotten to the place I am today without the support from my community, and establishing your own community of support is crucial. 

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Author: Colette Rinker

I am a senior at Keene State College in Keene, NH! I am a communication major with a concentration in philosophy and a minor in professional writing. As a queer, first-generation, and low-income college student I am passionate about helping other students like myself in their college journey. By sharing my story and experiences, I hope I can help make the college admissions process just a little easier!