End of the Semester

Where has this year gone? I just finished 50 percent of my college career! Can I give you some advice? Enjoy every single minute because it sure does fly by. It seems like just yesterday I was sitting in the big white rocking chairs in front of Appleby Center at 4 a.m. waiting to begin START Orientation.

This year has been busy, but it has also been amazing. I am one step closer to graduation and medical school, but I am not quite sure whether to be happy, sad, nostalgic or indifferent. The people at YHC truly are my family, and this year’s tears were even worse than last year’s. I had to say goodbye to friends that I had gotten to know deeply over the last two years. Brothers, sisters, friends and buddies all walked across that stage at Commencement this year, and I cannot help but reflect on the memories we shared together.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog each week. I know that I have enjoyed writing it. I hope you all have a great summer, and hopefully I will run into someone next year that actually read some of my blogs!

I just got an email from a wonderfully kind alumnus thanking me for writing this blog. So sir, if you are reading this, I thank you for your praise. Have a great summer, folks.


Beware of Finals!

Finals are very quickly approaching, and with them, loads of stress. I have a final in all five classes I am taking this semester. Two of them take place on Friday, and I am not looking forward to that. Anyway, I am just going to talk a little about finals at Young Harris College.

I have joked that finals week is my favorite week of school because there is so much free time. You have to study like crazy for the finals you do have, but the rest of the week is class-free. The testing schedule is posted on the school’s website, and you just have to show up to take each final in a specific location.

After you are done with one, you give a huge sigh of relief and then move on to the next. During my freshman year, I had all of my finals on three days so the rest of my week was glorious. Finals week begins with “Reading Day,” which is simply a day off to prepare for any finals that take place on Friday. If you don’t have a Friday final, then this could essentially be a day off.

All in all, finals are not nearly as bad as people would have you think, but rather just something that should be taken seriously. If you concentrate, study and make sure you are prepared, then the rest of finals week can be used to hang out, play video games, chill on the lawn and get ready for summer.

Hope you all are having a great week!


What Is There To Do Up Here?

As a tour guide, I have learned what topics students are most interested in and what to leave out when giving tours. Everyone always wants to know what the residence hall rooms look like, where the gym is and what happens on the weekends. But there is one questions that all of the tour guides joke about because it is asked on nearly every single tour: “What is there to do up here?” After having answered that question probably 200 times, I think I have a pretty well defined answer. Since I have lived in this area my entire life, I believe I probably know the answer to that better than most. I have observed that prospective students care about a few specific things such as shopping, entertainment and the outdoors—so I will touch on each of those. 

Obviously, living in the mountains and practically the middle of nowhere, you have to live without some of the convenience of being near big shopping malls. A lot of students crave the ability to shop when they first come to college. Quite frankly, though, everyone is broke. If that big high school graduation check isn’t paid toward tuition and books, it is practically gone by the beginning of your sophomore year. And to be honest, you don't really need a lot of money at Young Harris. All of your food is paid for, and you can get an on-campus job for some extra spending money. “But wait! I still need to shop!” Walmart is right down the road, Ingles is located in both surrounding towns, and there is a dollar store practically on campus. You can get all of your basic amenities at those places, but shopping online can pretty much get you everything else. Amazon Prime offers free two-day shipping, and they have a big discount on the service for students. Other than that, you can just get stuff from whatever company website you really need. There are also a few local boutiques around that carry “cute” stuff. I am a guy and we really don't usually care about that stuff—but you ladies can always find somewhere to spend your money!

As far as entertainment goes, there are movie theaters in both Blairsville and Hiawassee and they both have movie tickets for only $5 with a YHC ID! There is a bowling alley in Blairsville and a roller skating rink in Hiawassee. Other than those, there are lots of great local restaurants and ice cream shops that are reasonably priced. Brothers Restaurant is right down the road, that is my personal favorite local place and the food is excellent. Lots of places also have wing nights and trivia nights and there are a few sports bars and grills not too far way. As far as on-campus, student groups are constantly putting on dances, cookouts and other fun events. Greek life has plenty of events year round as well. There is also a college-sponsored student group called the Campus Activities Board that puts on bigger events like Spring Fest and Fall Fest as well as weekly events like Coffeehouse.

However, the biggest “thing to do” on and off campus is outdoor stuff. There is a little comment that I frequently say to students when I give tours—if you aren’t an outdoorsy person when you come to Young Harris, you will be when you leave. You are in the mountains! This place is absolutely God’s country. Hiking, backpacking, camping, biking, going to the beach right down the road… the list is endless. Everyone has friends who are outdoor leadership majors and they always know the best places to do stuff. Since arriving at YHC, I have gotten into camping, longboarding, bouldering, swimming and a bunch of other stuff. I will never forget the fun times and skills that I have gained through these experiences.

All in all, there is way more to do here than students may think. It’s also important to realize that you are coming to college to get an education and make memories that will last the rest of your life. My biggest advice to freshmen under any circumstances is to stay at YHC on the weekends. You will miss your friends and family, but you have to understand that when you come to college, you essentially begin a new chapter of your life. Staying at college will help you make friends, study more and ultimately have a great first year and college experience. Plus, who wouldn't want to have time to go on mountain adventures with their friends? Have a great week, friends!



College Prom

Ah, prom season is in the air! Expensive dresses, tuxedos, corsages and borrowed cars. It all feels so familiar. If you are in high school and already getting nostalgic about attending this memorable event, I have good news for you! Young Harris College practically has a prom of its own!

Every year, the Student Government Association’s freshman committee throws Spring Formal, a free event for all students that is a blast every year. Everyone loves a chance to get dressed up, and the whole school comes out to the swanky Brasstown Valley Resort down the street from the College. YHC hires a DJ, and foods and drinks are served. (If you are a senior, you get a double night of fun because YHC also hosts a Senior Celebration Dinner beforehand.)

College formals feel different than they did in high school. It doesn't feel so strict, and it doesn't have to be as perfect as you thought it did in high school. You feel free to eat at a less expensive restaurant, show up late and not rent a tux. Honestly, I think it is more fun this way. It is less stressful, which means you are more relaxed and feel free to just dance and have a great time.

This year, my friends made even less big of a deal about it than last year. My girlfriend and I went to Brothers Restaurant in Young Harris and arrived about an hour after the event started. We danced with each other and friends and had a great time.

College is the transition period between childhood and adulthood. Enjoy all of these experiences, as if they are your last. But don't be stressed by them! Take one day at a time and enjoy everything while you’re in college. I can’t believe I am a sophomore and already done with two years—but at least I know I have two more Spring Formals to attend during my time at YHC!



Just A Typical Week

Well, folks, this week has been pretty average. I had midterms in all of my classes before spring break so I have not had anything too tough to eat up all of my study time. However, I've has been surprisingly busy with Alpha Omega stuff. This is the last week of education period for all Greeks so we are just preparing to welcome all of our new members into the organization. Tomorrow we are having a cookout to celebrate the accomplishment. Other than that, I have just been covering new material in all of my classes and working on semester long projects. Classes, the gym, homework and meetings have pretty much taken up my entire week.

I am also already busy making plans for the upcoming summer. Part-time jobs, camp counselors, mission trips and vacations generally fill the summers for college students. It is great having the time off, but honestly I love coming back to Young Harris when August rolls around. This year I am going on a mission trip to Guatemala for five weeks for the first part of the summer and then hopefully taking summer courses for the remainder of the time. Getting ahead in classes between the spring and fall semesters can significantly lighten the load and keep you on track for your degree.

College life can be busy even when there aren't too many academic obligations. I know that my post this week is pretty short compared to my previous ones, but I am sure there will be much more to say in the upcoming weeks before the semester ends. I hope that you are all having a great week!



Spring Break 2013!

Hey everyone! I am back from spring break! I know you’re expecting a really awesome story about a wild trip to some extravagant location. The problem is, I didn't really do anything extravagant or exciting. What I did do was spend some time at home with family and enjoy some good R&R. I have been trying to raise money for a mission trip I’m going on this summer, so I am saving every penny I can. Thus, no big trip this year. Last year, however, I did go on a fun trip—so in this post, I am going to break down what to expect during spring break at YHC.

Midway through the spring semester, all students except athletes have to leave campus for the week. Students often go on road trips and come back to school with some fun stories. I’m going to tell you my story and hopefully dole out some good advice in the process…

Last year, a group of friends and I went down to Destin, Fla., for six days. We stayed at a State Park and camped in tents and hammocks. We played on the beach, shopped and roamed around town. All in all, we had a blast. A lot of things we did fell perfectly into place. However, if I had to do it again, I would do some things differently.

We took two cars, which worked out perfectly as we had six people. The only problem was we had car trouble the night before we left and were delayed by one day. It actually worked out because it became a monsoon at the beach the day we were supposed to show up. However, my advice is to always have a backup car and driver in case something like that happens. We took one Jeep and one small car so the gas costs weren’t terrible—and it’s always smart to pick vehicles with the best gas mileage on a road trip.

I am treasurer of Alpha Omega and pretty good with money, so I did some intense budgeting and think that worked out perfectly. I calculated how much the gas would cost using miles per gallon of our vehicles and did some fairly accurate estimation for a week of expenses and food. There are a lot of things to factor in: cost of the accommodations, gas to get there and back, gas to get around once you are there, three meals for each day and, of course, spending money. After all of my calculations, I estimated it would cost around $200 for each person not including spending money—and it’s always good to factor in some extra money for things that may come up once you are there.

One of the most important parts about planning a trip is knowing people may bail on you last minute—so ask everyone to pay the full price up front. If you want to book a place at the beach, you have to do it pretty early in the year because places fill up. Never book a location or pay a deposit before collecting some money from everyone to pay for it.

We stayed in a State Park at a campground, which I highly recommend because they are $25-40 per night and will rent to people under 25—unlike many hotels across the U.S. In Florida, State Parks have the cleanest beaches, very good customer service and most amenities you may need like firewood and ice. Our campsite was only 50 feet from a very nice bathroom facility as well.

The biggest thing to remember before taking off on a spring break trip is to plan accordingly. You need to convince many friends to make plans and begin saving money at Christmas in order to get a big enough group together. It’s also important to plan a trip with friends you know you can spend a full week with and get along well. Also ask around—lots of students’ parents have condos, houses or cabins at the beach or on the lake. No matter what, go with a cheerful heart and a positive and helpful attitude. This will make the trip better for you and for everyone else. A trip is a lot of work to plan, but it’s definitely worth it and you will make some unforgettable memories with your friends.


Corey Helton

The Real Reason We Are Here

Hey everyone! Since it’s midterms week, I'll keep this post a little shorter than normal. I am really busy with my schoolwork right now, so it’s only fitting that I talk about my experience with academics and give some advice to new students. (I promise it won't be as boring as you might think!)

A typical degree at Young Harris College has around 120 total academic credit hours. That equals at least 15 hours each semester to graduate in four years. There are always summer classes if you would like to take a lighter load during some semesters. Classes are typically held on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for 50 minutes or on Tuesday and Thursday for 90 minutes. There are some exceptions to this, of course, as some classes are only one day a week – especially longer, more intensive science labs or art studio classes. Core courses like English, history and business are generally three academic credit hours, but courses can range between one and four credits depending on the subject.

I enjoy nearly all of my classes and love my professors. Speaking of professors, they pretty much make the academic life at Young Harris College great. Class sizes are small (generally around 17 students), so professors get to know all of us well. They also know if you miss class, so no skipping! Professors are really cool in and outside of the classroom. They maintain a professional relationship but are also fun and lighthearted, too. They absolutely care about the well being of their students. All of them have office hours to give us extra help when we need it, and most professors have an “open door policy” meaning students are welcome to simply stop by.

I am not going to lie. Classes are difficult. Academics are definitely a big step up from high school courses, but they are doable. If you do your homework, show up to class and work closely with your professors to learn the material, you will succeed in college. Don't freak out when you fail a test either, because it will happen sooner or later. Just use it as motivation to ask for help, keep going and do better on the next one.

Until next week, I better get going on some of my coursework instead of just talking about it! I have a chemistry test coming up and a study session with friends tonight. Talk to you next week!


Corey Helton

Get ’Em to the Greek!

Hey all! Thanks for reading! This week I am going to talk about Greek life and my involvement with Alpha Omega. Since we are mid-rush period right now, this has been on my mind quite a bit…

When I came to college, I had no interest whatsoever in joining a fraternity. My idea of a fraternity was that of popular culture: alcohol, frat bros and wild parties. What I became involved with was far from that. When I got hired as a College Rep in the Office of Admissions, I got to move in a few days earlier then the rest of the freshman class. With the exception of the few other Reps who were hired with me, I was one of the only freshmen on campus, which was quite intimidating. However, since I’m not shy, I immediately met some upperclassmen. While hanging out with them, the topic of Alpha Omega, YHC’s Christian brotherhood, came up in conversation. I realized that these guys were highly active in religious life as well, which caught me somewhat off-guard in relation to my idea of being “Greek.” The more I heard about Alpha Omega, the more I thought this was something I could be interested in.

As the semester continued, I learned that many of the guys I had met and become friends with through YHC’s “Underground” Bible study and weekly Chapel services were all part of Alpha Omega. By the time spring semester rolled around, I was stoked to get involved. I went to the group’s interest party and received a bid, thus beginning my journey with Alpha Omega.

Let me back up a bit her and explain that the Greek system at Young Harris College is a bit different than that of a larger university. YHC has a mix of both national and local fraternities and sororities, meaning some of them—like Alpha Omega—only exist at YHC. Through my personal experience, I have found that the traditions and family environment the local organizations have is unlike anything I have ever heard of anywhere else. One of my favorite traditions is Greek cheers, where sororities and fraternities each do a special cheer on the College seal in the middle of the YHC Plaza every Wednesday after Chapel.

Freshmen don’t rush their first semester so they can become acclimated to college life before they get too involved and overloaded with stress. When the spring semester rolls around, all organizations hold interest parties during Rush Week early in the semester where each organization explains what they are all about. Since Young Harris is so small, many students already know which group they are interested in. At the end of Rush Week, organizations give out “bids” (or invitations) that prospective students may or may not accept. If they do accept, they begin the six-week education period. During this time, “littles” (those who are pledging) get to know their “bigs” (current members). Each little is assigned to at least one big, who essentially becomes a mentor to that student. This big-to-little idea creates a big family tree of individual lines that can be traced back to the original founding members. After the education period is over, littles become members and are given a name and number to go on a jersey. The meanings of these names and numbers are some of the most sacred and treasured secrets of each organization, and every member of every local organization has one. (Mine is at my signature of today’s post!)

My fraternity, Alpha Omega, throws some of the biggest events on campus including the annual Halloween dance, the “Boo Bash.” Hundreds of students show up in costume and dance the night away. The other large event we do comes after education period and very much involves the new members. We call this event the “Holy Water Luau,” and we roast a whole pig in a huge cooker on the lawn and serve our famous Holy Water punch. (The recipe is a secret, but I can assure you it is a non-alcoholic beverage.) Nearly the entire student body comes out on the lawn to hang out with us, play our version of dodgeball that involves Frisbees, toss a football around or simply socialize. A large number of Alpha Omega alumni come up for this huge annual event, and hearing stories from the fraternity's alumni never gets old. At the end of the day, we do our traditional cheer and cries of “God is good! All the time!” echo across campus.

Overall, my experience with Greek life is something that I will always hold close to my heart. The bonds of friendship that exist between my brothers and myself will never be forgotten or severed. I highly encourage all students to at least look into Greek life at Young Harris. I continually hear that joining a fraternity or sorority changed the life of a student. On that note, I will talk to you all again next week. Until then, take care!


Corey Helton

Treasurer, Alpha Omega

It's a College Life for Me!

Hi all! First off, thanks for reading my first post! I work in the YHC Office of Admissions as a Student Representative, which means I answer phones, give tours and regularly interact with prospective students. Now I am actually writing to them as well through this blog, which is an interesting and nice change of atmosphere. Anyway, I have been pondering what I should cover in this first post and figured why not just start at the beginning...

I am the eighth generation in Suches, a tiny town with a population of less than 2,000 people. I went to Woody Gap School, the smallest public school in the state with a graduating class consisting of a whopping 12 people. I played basketball and tennis, and was very involved in student council and a number of other clubs. I have three sisters: Amanda, 16, Rebecca, 15, and Kaitlyn, 10. I am the oldest and the only guy. My dad still calls me from time to time to tell me how he can really tell that I don't live at home anymore. I play bluegrass fiddle, mandolin and guitar, and I absolutely love the magnificent beauty of the mountains. While I've lived in (and loved) the mountains my entire life, I really cannot see myself living here 10 years from now. I have a traveler’s soul, and I will go wherever my career takes me. But that’s another conversation for another day.

When I began to look at colleges midway through high school, I had the same conversations many prospective students have in relation to the local options. “There is no way I am going to YHC. It's too close! My parents will never leave me alone! I won't feel like I'm away at college! It just won't be fun.” Man, was I wrong.

My school came to Young Harris for a tour during my senior year. My parents had talked me into giving it a chance, and I was very surprised when I arrived on campus. The students here were so friendly, class sizes were familiar to me, professors all seemed genuine. I had a change of heart and applied. Even then, I wasn't 100 percent convinced until I came to START Orientation over the summer. During START, all new students stay on campus for a weekend, meet part of their freshmen class and get a taste of college life. I made so many friends during that weekend, and it absolutely changed my mind about Young Harris College. I ended up hanging out with new friends in the rocking chairs in front of Appleby Center until 3 a.m. and then went on the first of what would become many, many trips to Waffle House at 4 in the morning.

That weekend essentially changed my life. I fell in love with Young Harris College, and now I never want to leave. As a tour guide, it’s easy to talk about how much I love this place. Anyway, I better get on with it before I start to reminisce and cry about how I graduate in two years.

Back to the present! I am a sophomore biology major with a concentration in pre-med, as well as both a chemistry and business minor. That may seem like a little much, but I have crazy dreams, so why not have a crazy academic workload? Biology is probably one of the most difficult academic majors at Young Harris. I aspire to become an ophthalmologist, so I am preparing for med school and all that comes along with that. I will probably write a post or two about pre-med, med school, ophthalmology, etc., in this blog, so keep a lookout if you’re interested in that. I am very involved on campus, so I’m definitely looking forward to writing about Greek life, student clubs, religious life, living on campus and all the other awesome stuff we do here.

I better stop writing before I tell you my life story – I need to save something for my next post! Thanks for reading and feel free to look me up on Facebook or shoot me an email. Already looking forward to next week. Take care!


Corey Helton

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