April Twist has always been a goal-oriented student. After graduating from Gloucester High School in 2011, she started her college education in Rappahannock Community College’s Associate of Arts and Science transfer degree program, with a specialization in psychology and social work.
Through this program, she was able to stay close to home, save money, and obtain the basic credits she needed to pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Old Dominion University, where she transferred in 2014. Balancing costs against the classes and amenities she wanted, “I looked into different options and found ODU was better for me,” she says.
With the help of her RCC psychology professor, Dr. Lisa Hill, Twist found classes fitting her degree requirements and financial capabilities and enrolled in ODU’s online education program. The online option allowed her to fit classes around her job schedule, and to meet her deadlines while working at her own pace.
However, she concedes that online courses have their own challenges. She speaks of the importance of staying on track with online classes: “If you [fall] behind, you’re not going to be able to catch up again. If you think you can catch up and pull an all-nighter, it’s impossible. It’s very important to try and keep up.”
Twist thinks of becoming an academic advisor when she has completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. At both RCC and ODU, she was greatly helped by her own advisors, particularly in making a choice between degree and career options, and her degree in psychology, she feels, will enable her to exercise a similar influence on other college students. However, Twist does not limit herself to the sole career of advising.
“I can do a lot with the psychology degree,” she says, mentioning that another possibility for her is working with animals, “because I am into the animal rights movement.”
To beginning college students, Twist says, “I would advise anyone two or three years younger than me … at least start here [at RCC] to get your basics out of the way and get your associate degree. Then you can work during your time here on what you want to do, and look at programs at the different universities.”
Twist considers RCC’s size an advantage, saying that in these intimate surroundings, people get to know you for yourself. RCC is a good choice, she says, for those uncertain of what degree they want to pursue; she describes it as “just a great experience. To anyone … who doesn’t know what they want to do, or if they want to start small, come here.” — Mary Cline