After writing an article to second-semester high school seniors about what to know for their last few months of high school, I could not ignore the fact that during those few months they will be making the biggest decision of their life - where to spend the next four years. Here are my words of wisdom, take them or leave them… but either way - GOOD LUCK!!
It's about that time when all acceptance letters, decline letters, and waitlist letters are arriving in the mail. Every time you check that mailbox it is like your future is sitting there in this 1ft by a 6-inch metal box. You see the letter. The one addressed just for you. You open it. YOU'RE IN! Congratulations.. add it to the pile with the others!
They are all back now, every school you applied for responded - it's decision time.
I was in your place not too long ago, I applied to all these schools and after getting into more than I expected I was at a loss. What do I do now? It seemed everything I had wanted since the beginning was there, but now a bigger question needed an answer.
I started college tours, they were the worst. Peppy people, way too early in the morning convincing YOU to come to their school, they want YOU. Take the free t-shirt and take the tour, but remember what you want at the end of the day, not anyone else.
First and foremost, do not force it. If you walk on campus and it does not feel like "home" or someplace that you could make a home, leave. I left a couple tours 10-20 minutes in, no matter how I pictured the school it never felt like home to me, I was never going to make it what I want.
Second, consider the distance. I knew kind of early on that going VERY far away was not for me. I did not like the idea of being a plane ride away from family. I looked at schools pretty close to home, I wanted somewhere where I could be home in a day if an emergency were to ever occur. I picked a school five hours away from my home town. I could drive there, and get there in less than a day, but I could also create a space that was my own.
Third, your happiness is what matters. My dad loved one school, my mom loved another (that was closer to home). In the end, their opinions mattered, of course, but they were not the ones spending their lives there. I had to choose where I wanted to be and I had to choose the place in which I felt I could thrive and flourish. It was hard telling my mom I would be five hours away, not two, but at the end of the day, she fell in love with where I was happiest.
And lastly, stick true to what you want. Those tour guides can be pretty convincing and those money packages from schools can play a big role. Never sacrifice your dream school because of something like that. Go where you want — apply to some scholarships, call financial aid and apply for a loan. There are ways to get around those setbacks.
At the end of the day, this is your decision and your destiny.
Where you end up is based on you and only you. Read that sentence again. The distance, the money, and whatever else can be fixed, changed or helped. If you're not happy where you are, that cannot be.
Good luck, have fun, and enjoy all those free t-shirts; I hope you find the one you want to wear with pride forever.