Skip To Main Content

Numbers big and small figure into top senior's college decision

For Dakota Tyndall, it was a good problem to have: colleges lined up to welcome her in the fall and her two favorites – the University of North Carolina and Campbell University – both solid choices for an aspiring pharmacist. How the South Lenoir High School senior sorted out those opportunities says something about the considerations top students have when they become the choosers.

Female high school senior in orange sweatshirt poses in chair.

Dakota Tyndall is heading to Campbell University with a diploma from South Lenoir High School, an associate degree from Lenoir Community College, a merit scholarship package worth $138,000 over four years and the real sense that Campbell’s the right fit for her.

Campbell won out, not least because it offered Dakota a merit scholarship package worth $138,000 over four years, erasing the financial advantage that public UNC had over private Campbell. But other factors figured in her decision, fit and familiarity among them.

“At UNC, I felt like I would be a little fish in a big sea. Campbell’s like homey. You’re seen as a person, not just a number,” Dakota said. “I feel like, in a classroom, I do better with small numbers.”

Because her older sister just finished her junior year at Campbell, Dakota knows the Buies Creek campus as a visitor. When she enrolls, she’ll have the company of fellow aspiring pharmacists in a former South Lenoir schoolmate and in a friend she met through her sister. “I’ll have a lot of people,” she said. “That’s a good support system.”

Coming to a decision about what comes after high school is the culmination of a process that, in a general sense, has been ongoing – “College has always in the picture,” she said – and became more pressing as she progressed through high school.

“Probably the beginning of my junior year, I felt like it was getting serious,” Dakota said. “Everybody was starting to send college emails out. I told my mother that we needed to start thinking about this.”

Her parents, Charles and Jaime Tyndall of Kinston, offered counsel and encouragement and school counselors rolled up their sleeves. “Our counselors are the best,” she said. “They help with applications, with any questions. They’ll sit down with you and help you apply.”

For Dakota, the application process wasn’t as much difficult as it was long and intense, especially for a student carrying a full load of college classes through Lenoir Community College. “It was stressful, with all the course load you have and then you’re applying to colleges and for scholarships. It was a lot, all at the same time.”

Since finishing her high school requirements as a sophomore, Dakota became a full-time, in-person student at LCC. LCC awarded her an associate of science degree in May, about a month ahead of her receiving a diploma at South Lenoir’s commencement on June 8. She’ll enroll at Campbell as a freshman but academically she’ll be a junior.

She plans to complete her undergraduate work in one year. She will enroll in Campbell's School of Pharmacy and, after four years of study, expects to earn a doctor of pharmacy degree by the time she is 23.