So the beloved days are here. The days that you discover which colleges you're deemed worthy of, which waitlists you know have to be destined to open up for you, and which schools you never really liked anyways, because yeah it doesn't matter that you didn't get in and please I'm too good for them that's why they rejected me. For some, these days may commence a tumultuous month of vacillating feelings and anxious decision-making, complete with a hearty dose of tears and thrills. I feel like I sound way too exaggerated, but that was honestly something that I saw around me when I was still in high school.
Firstly, I know we've all heard the "Oh, it doesn't matter what college you go to" spiel more than enough times, but I wanted to at least give some personal insight that will hopefully help reevaluate your current mindset or to just give an opinion worth your time if anything.
For authenticity's sake, I applied to four schools: I was accepted early into Georgetown, accepted into the UT (McCombs) Business Honors Program, rejected by UPenn (Wharton), and accepted into NYU (Stern).
For a little background, I applied to UT/the business honors program because I'm from Texas, we love UT (more or less), the business program is solid, and I mean there are just so many reasons - but anyhow, it's the choice state school/program for business majors back at home. Wharton was because
At last but not least, I applied to Georgetown because...well, to this day I still don't know; honestly I must have been led by either whimsical spontaneity or the holy spirit. But all jokes aside, I really don't know what kind of factors prompted me to apply, and honestly the only reason I had even heard of the school was because I accompanied a friend on a college visit a couple years back when we happened to be in the area (LOL thanks Christina!). And even when I visited, it's not like the sparks suddenly flew. There were no fireworks, no instantaneous feelings of affirmation, nada.
A lot of people are either surprised or shocked whenever the number of my college applications comes up, but I mean honestly...I just didn't see the point of applying to schools that I didn't really want to attend anyways. At the same time, do what works for you. If applying to more schools will give you a greater sense of stability during the emotional rollercoaster many students board, then be my guest - I mean you're the one paying the application fees.
Anyways, I could not be happier that I was rejected by Penn. (My mom hired a college counselor because she wanted me to go, and yeah, those were some of the most trying days of my high school career.) I'm not going to try to generalize Ivy's cause I obviously don't go to one, but the Georgetown/DC culture fits me so well it's almost ridiculous. The atmosphere of the city and the activeness of the lifestyle is just so conducive to exploring and enjoying life (after you get over the whole insanely and impossibly busy schedules part). Of course, as much I can highlight the positive traits, there are also flaws/more negative aspects, and thus my own shortcomings and misappropriations of life and such have been made clearer as well. But really, after all the unique growth experiences I've encountered here this past year (and the foodie opportunities hollaaa), I literally can't imagine myself anywhere else - yet at the same time, I know I would've loved UT Austin too.
I also want to say that you will make many a great decision in life, and your college career is just the start - the start of new decisions but also new mistakes and eye-opening experiences. No matter what school you go to, there will be people who don't feel like they belong and transfer. Some will stick it out for a little longer and realize that there really is a place for them. Some look like they're comfortably integrated or they have it all together, but they don't. Because you know what? None of us do.
I'm not going tell you to cast aside your pride, but that's essentially what much of this whole process comes down to. Actually, let's approach this from the half glass full side - just humble yourself. Or let yourself be humbled. Ultimately, what I find to be the most formative aspects of my college experience are the community and the location, which in turn shape the school itself more so than the other way around. And really, a lot of that also depends on how much you make use of whatever is around you, because wherever you go - there will be opportunity, there will be purpose, and there will be a place for you. You just gotta embrace it. (Or if you already love wherever you're going to, then kudos to you.)
Experiences like this are two way streets - as much as your surroundings can be teeming with potential, you likewise need to continually challenge yourself. Push yourself to see past any preconceptions you have and go in ready to squeeze sweet glorious lemonade out of all the lemons life will throw at you - whether you're introverted or extroverted, a cynic or a progressive, Democratic or Republican (okay I probably only stuck that one in because of DC), or basically any other identifier you can think of.
I'm not going to talk about financials since everyone has his or her own situation, but seriously, we all strugglin'. You're not alone lol.
And just emphasizing that phrase - you're not alone. So make decisions, make mistakes, and mature from them. The greatest decision of my life was to follow Jesus, but whatever it is for you (or maybe you haven't found it yet), there will be greater things than college. Like life. So live it to the fullest, knowing that it doesn't have to be and it's not going to always flow perfectly - and that the great blessing to enjoy the privilege of higher education and a purposeful life is something we should never lose sight of.