Beyond Woodberry: Zach Switzer ’13

Zach Switzer ’13

2013.2.15-16 Woodberry at State Swimming and Diving Meet lh-298

Zach Switzer ’13 (right) and Alex Hapgood ’13 (left) compete at the 2013 VISAA State Championships in the 200 Medley Relay

As many assume, college is filled with fun-loving, knowledge hungry, diverse academics.  For many, college is the most diverse workplace they will experience.  People come from differing socioeconomic backgrounds, countries, and religions; each person’s background is different.  Our society gathers thousands of people on to one campus for the purposes of knowledge and learning.  The competition is intense; we are all working for the same thing, a well paying job in the field of our choice.  Luckily, we have and are attending a well-known, well-respected institute in Woodberry Forest.  This helps us gain the upper hand on our competition.  Woodberry creates an easier transition from high school to college.

My story may be a bit different than most.  My sport played a huge role in my choice of college.  First and foremost, I was looking for a school that had the right combination of rigorous academics and a tradition of excellence in athletics.  Woodberry granted me access to living what both of those things truly meant. I had held a tough academic schedule with a rich athletic department.  I was drawn to Virginia Tech for reasons I lack an understanding of.  It just felt right.  


Left to right: Mr. Greg Switzer, Zach Switzer ’13, Mrs. Tammy Switzer, Nick Switzer ’16 following Zach’s signing ceremony where he committed to swim for Virginia Tech

If I were to give a person any advice while going through the process of choosing a college, it would be to go where you want to go.  Let the college draw you in and make you feel as though you belong there.  In many ways, Woodberry prepared me for a simple transition, but there are many factors one must learn when stepping on to campus or “grounds.”  I struggled my first semester in this massive place I now called home.  There was free time wasted, and late nights I wish I could take back.  Without someone forcing you into a two-hour study session each and every night, it is difficult to pressure yourself into sitting down and finishing an hour-long assignment due at 10:10 the next morning.  


Zach shakes the hand of former Headmaster Dr. Dennis Campbell at the traditional senior shake

Procrastination at Woodberry is one thing, but with the extracurriculars surrounding the college freshman it is a whole new playing field.  Not only did I believe that the assignment would take me less time, I tried to push three or four assignments off at a time.  Thus leading to weeks where every single assignment pushed off would be due on the same day, coupled with a test or two.  Have a plan on when and what you will be doing that day, finish your homework and do not wait until the last night to finish a project, or study for a test.

Responsibility may be the most important word for a college freshman.  I did not understand the meaning of the word the first semester of my collegiate career.  I cared about swimming and socializing, not too much about schoolwork.  In the end you are continuing your career in academics, not socializing, and unless you are a superstar, not athletics.  I found out the hard way, when I received my final grades that semester.  That unfortunately was the wakeup call I needed.  I finally understood why the professors told students to attend all classes.  It’s harder than it seems, you will not get 12 demerits for missing a college class.  And most importantly, it was not for the professor’s benefit, it was for my own. Understand why you are at the college you are, take pride in that and use that pride to excel in all aspects of your collegiate career.


Trey Roberson ’13 (left) and Zach (right) smoking their cigars immediately following their graduation

I will forever miss Woodberry.  Fortunately, I have a great group of Woodberry boys by my side here at Virginia Tech.  We are able to laugh about our experiences at Woodberry and reminisce about what went on at that amazing place.  Woodberry Forest is a special place; do not take it for granted.  You are gaining lifelong friends throughout the journey, and pretty soon the journey will come to a halt.  You’ll part ways with those friends, but you will keep in contact and be able to muse over memories held with your brothers.  Enjoy the time while you can, cherish every moment and don’t blink for too long, time flashes by too quickly for a blink.

Categories: Today