Life at Chico State University – from a Dublin Gael to a Chico Wildcat
The next entry in our popular Life in College Series features Dublin High School Class of 2014 alum and California State University, Chico sophomore Caitlin Benoit. Caitlin makes a valuable point about keeping an open mind when making college selection choices, and focusing on making the most of the opportunity going to college provides.
OneDublin.org: For students considering Chico State describe how you viewed Chico during your college selection process, and what you’ve learned about Chico since.
Caitlin Benoit: “Before I knew anything about Chico State I didn’t want to go, I was closed-minded and only thought of Chico based on its reputation as being a party school. I worked so hard in high school and I didn’t want to be perceived as ‘not smart’. It took me going to Chico to realize the school’s reputation is not fair.
“There are so many students at Chico who work hard; I’ve learned it matters less where you go to college, and more what you do when you get there.
“I’m so glad I chose Chico. I’ve found that Chico teaches beyond the textbooks. I’ve also met such a diverse group of people, from Danville to Compton, and have learned so much from each person I’ve met. The students at Chico have opened my eyes, coming from the bubble of Dublin.”
OneDublin.org: What do you most enjoy about Chico State?
Benoit: “The people: I have since met so many amazing people. Most of my friends in Dublin come from well off families whereas students at Chico come from very diverse backgrounds, and I’ve learned valuable lessons about the struggles faced by those less well off. The students are what make Chico such a great college.”
OneDublin.org: Have you settled on a major?
Benoit: “I’m still deciding, but am thinking of declaring accounting as my major. I took an accounting class which has a high fail rate and I got an A! I found the class both fun and challenging, and am starting a winter class shortly, Accounting 202.”
OneDublin.org: What did you learn from your internship at WorkDay?
Benoit: “I really liked learning about how corporations function, and getting the experience of working at a desk from 8am – 5pm every day. The internship also reinforced why getting an education is so important because education opens doors.”
OneDublin.org: You are part of a sorority, and there are lots of stereotypes about fraternities and sororities; what has been your experience?
Benoit: “I found my community and a group of friends that I know will be there for me all four years. Having a close group of friends is so important in college, and making those friendships can be hard.
“At Chico you rush in second semester so that you can focus on academics first. The process starts with signing up and visiting each house and at the end of each day either you drop houses you aren’t interested in, or the house drops you. At the end of the selection process you are down to two houses and you pick one. At that point there is a 6-week trial period where you get to know the girls in the house and decide if it’s right for you.
“Being part of a house gives you opportunities to participate in activities as part of a larger group, for example we all went wakeboarding last year. We also hold events to raise money for the Women’s Heart Association. Next year I’ll be living in the sorority house with 16 other girls which will be great!”
OneDublin.org: What has been your experience transitioning from high school academics to college academics?
Benoit: “It’s different. There is definitely more studying, more time spent in the library, and less time doing homework. I enjoy the work in college more than high school – I find it more realistic. In high school it felt more like busywork vs. college where I can see a purpose in the work, I can connect classes to what I want to do in life.”
OneDublin.org: How have you found the transition from living at home to being on your own?
Benoit: “Everyone goes through a bit of homesickness in the beginning, sometimes you can feel a little lost as you are making new friends, but I really like being on my own. I did have two people from Dublin High School who lived on my floor which was really nice. Many people come into college not knowing anyone.
“A really cool thing about Chico is that all the student housing is in the same spot – everyone is grouped together. There is a six block radius that is all Chico students called the ‘Chico Streets’ – Cherry, Hazel, Ivy, Chestnut and Orange.You can walk everywhere, you don’t need a car, and Chico is also a college town which is special.”
OneDublin.org: If you could go back in time to when you were in high school, what advice would you give to yourself, knowing what you know now?
Benoit: “Put the stereotypes aside and keep your mind open. Too many kids think ‘I’m better than that school’ when they don’t know what the school has to offer. I cried on my way up to Chico, I didn’t want to go, and looking back I feel so foolish for how I felt and for giving my parents such a hard time. Chico provides a solid educational foundation; completing your degree and doing something with your degree is more important than where you get the degree.
“One example is my first year business professor, I have so much respect for him. He started as a businessperson who ran one of the most popular restaurants in Chico, he also worked for the Giants, and ultimately went on to get his PhD to pursue education. He’s a Chico grad and has been so successful.”
OneDublin.org: Describe a class that showed you what college can be.
Benoit: “The Human Sexuality class I took last semester has been one of my favorites. The class was focused on discussion, supported by amazing speakers including a woman with HIV and a woman who is in a polygamist relationship. It was so different from anything I experienced in high school! In high school the teachers are locked into a curriculum whereas in college the professors have so much more freedom.
“I also don’t feel afraid to make mistakes in college. I have no fear speaking out about how I feel which is very different from high school.”
OneDublin.org: Have you noticed a difference between college culture and high school culture?
Benoit: “The high school ‘catiness’ is non-existent in college. At Chico I’ve found everyone to be open, loving and friendly. College students are more focused on how they can better themselves and don’t worry about ‘who just did what’. College students are also encouraging and help each other. At Chico we have each others backs, are more mature, have goals and leave the petty stuff behind.”
Caitlin was on the Dublin High School Lady Gaels varsity soccer team for all four years of high school. During Caitlin’s sophomore year, Dublin High won the DFAL Championship and went to the NCS finals. During Caitlin’s senior year she was varsity captain and was awarded defensive player of the year. Caitlin was a scholar athlete and is a California Scholarship Federation Life Member.