Five years ago, I was floating through my senior year of high school, ready to get out of there and move on to the next chapter of my life: Lock Haven University. I was ready for all things college; the dorm life, going to college classes (as if they were so different from high school), and just generally being out on my own. I had visited the school and was astounded by the gorgeous brick buildings set against the backdrop of the Susquehanna River and Bald Eagle Mountain. The moment I first set foot on LHU’s campus, I knew it was the school for me.
When I arrived in the fall of 2008, I was ready to take it all on. My class schedule was ideal; I had all of my classes M-W-F from 8 AM – 2 PM straight. Having T-R off ended up being a blessing (and I ended up repeating a similar schedule for my final semester). My classes — all gen-eds — were fairly small. I would say the biggest class roster I had was maybe 35 students. Academically, it was a great semester, and it was a great way to start my college career.
As the semesters went on, however, I noticed something was different. My gen-ed classes were getting bigger. I had chosen Lock Haven partially for the small class sizes, and while my major classes were still in that small range (thanks to LHU having a small English department), my gen-ed classes were growing. I believe my sophomore year biology class had probably around 50 or 60 students. While it wasn’t really bothersome, I was starting to feel like “just a number” in some of my bigger classes, something that I was promised I would never endure at LHU.
I also noticed a big change soon after I got involved in LHU’s theatre department. My junior year, I was involved in a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, my first big theatre endeavor at LHU. During the rehearsal period, our director would explain to us the budget cuts being made in the University, and what we could do to try and help. We protested, wrote letters, and did our absolute best with the performance to show the administrators and community that the LHU theatre department was something special; but even after all we did, we still watched our department endure horrendous cuts.
My job at the LHU Writing Center underwent a great change as well. The Center, which was once housed in Raub 409 (a room with one of the most beautiful views on campus), was moved to the second floor of the library and merged with Tutorial Services. It was a tough change; we were used to having our own room and own space, and once we moved we had to deal with a lot more noise and had to claim tables every time we came in for a shift (finally we got signs designating the tables, but as the first person on shift many times, I still had to ask students to move so we could use our tables). Why were we moved? We were told that the space was needed to be used as a regular classroom. However, we moved in August of 2011 and, as far as I know, the space is still not being used for anything, let alone a classroom.
There were other changes, too, like the implementation of the Fairview Suites, which took out a parking lot. Parking is already limited for students, and losing that parking lot was definitely an irritation (especially for the theatre department, which used that lot for people who drove to see the shows).
I worked at LHU Admissions for a year, where we were told what to highlight during campus tours. While I loved my job and would rave about the great parts of LHU, I often had a hard time telling students and their parents that things weren’t happening when they clearly were. One of the hardest months of my job was the beginning of the Suites construction; parents did not want their children living in/near a construction zone, and I didn’t blame them. For Health Science students, I was very clear about the fact that their department was growing, and told them that they may not see the smaller class sizes that Lock Haven used to be famous for. I was honest, while (hopefully) still showing people the great points of the school I loved so much.
I don’t know if it was general burnout from being in school for a while, or the constant changes grating at me, but by the end of Spring 2012, I was sick of LHU. I couldn’t stomach the thought of getting through my two summer courses, let alone my final semester. I was sick of protesting big changes. I was sick of watching some of the departments I loved fighting for funding as our football team — which has won one game in five years — got brand new uniforms. I was annoyed that, for the first time in four years, I was having problems with my meal plan — problems that were never actually resolved, despite the fact that I was told they were. I was hit with a $50 fee and a hold on my account because Hurricane Sandy, which devastated my home state, delayed one of my tuiton payments. The school I’d loved in the beginning became an annoyance to me; I could not wait to get out of there and move on.
On December 15, 2012, after spending a semester fighting the graduation committee (an email about graduation procedures only went to 1/3 of the graduating class, but instead of re-sending the email, the committee decided to just say “oh well” and let us figure out on our own that, for the first time ever, there would be a ticket policy for the ceremony), I walked across the stage, received my folder, and was ready to write Lock Haven off as just “the place where I went to college.”
Little did I know that graduation wasn’t the end.
When I discovered that applying for a Disney Professional Internship would require me to be enrolled in at least one class, I called LHU hoping there was something they could do for me. I called them the day classes started, begging to be re-enrolled for just one class. The Registrar’s office was incredibly helpful and got me into a class, even waiving the “resume studies” fee. I was finally happy with LHU again… until I got my student bill.
Along with my tuition, there was a list of all sorts of fees: a student activities fee, a technology fee, an educational services fee… and a meal plan and flex.
I am taking an online class and living at home in New Jersey. I have no need to have a meal plan or flex. My mom called and the financial services employee gave her a hard time because we were trying to make a change to my meal plan after the designated change date — February 14th. I guess it was somehow my fault for not realizing they’d reinstated my meal plan from last semester. My mom explained that we didn’t even know I had a meal plan until the bill came, so they let her make the change. But those other fees? Standard. Even though I am not on campus using campus amenities, I am still being charged for them.
We got a revised bill, complete with a $194 “meal plan adjustment” fee. So we called again, and the financial services employee explained that they were charging me that fee for the first four weeks of school when I had my meal plan. My mom explained that I was not on campus and did not use my meal plan at all. They agreed to drop the fee.
I am hearing some pretty bad things from my friends still enrolled at LHU, including the fact that students have been having to go to class in dangerous weather conditions (which is odd, because we had two days off during Hurricane Sandy which barely even touched Central PA). I am worried about the students who are currently freshmen; I can’t even imagine what they will go through in their four years — if they don’t end up transferring.
I was a student at Lock Haven University for four and a half years. The Alumni Association has been bugging me for a donation, which I refuse to give them at this time. I am twenty two years old, fresh out of college, and at the moment I have nothing from LHU except a degree, memories, and a ton of frustration.