Anyone who knew me in high school knew that I had a dream college. I stepped foot on their grounds for the first time during Spring Break of eighth grade, and starting that day, I told myself and everyone who asked me that if I got in, I would go there. My oldest brother decided to go there, so I got to see the school and the town twice a year every year throughout high school as I visited him. On these visits, my dream of attending the university grew larger. Soon, my camera roll was full of photos of me there and my closet was filled with navy blue and orange shirts, jackets, socks, and shorts.
When I got accepted, everyone in my life thought that was it, that was where I was going. I happened to even be on its campus when I got that email, and my brother subsequently started telling all his friends that I was going to be a first-year that Fall. I even told my lacrosse coach that I was most likely going there when I showed up to practice the next Monday wearing navy blue and orange exercise shorts and running socks.
Time went on, and I started thinking about other colleges in a way that I had never thought of them before. I started thinking about them as a potential student rather than just a potential applicant because before this when I toured other schools, it was to decide whether I would apply or not. I toured other schools to avoid putting all my eggs in one basket, but now I was accepted to four of these schools and waiting to hear from three more. I started thinking about what it would actually be like to attend one of these universities, and suddenly, my dream school was no longer such an obvious choice.
Spring Break my senior year of high school was spent going back to see the four schools I'd been accepted to again because I no longer knew where I wanted to go, and now I had a choice to make. I remember sitting on a bench at my dream school with my dad and looking around at the buildings I'd seen and had pictured myself in so many times before, and I remember saying goodbye to them because I knew I was not going to be a student there. I felt that dream I'd had since I was thirteen years old going away, and I can't lie and say that it wasn't a sad feeling. However, letting go of that dream also allowed me to make the best decision of my life- accepting the offer of admission from the University of Georgia.
I realized that sometimes dreams are meant to stay as dreams because the reality of them is not what is best. The dream house is sometimes out of the budget, the dream job is sometimes a monotonous routine, the dream guy is sometimes a jerk, the dream vacation is sometimes utterly boring, and the dream school sometimes isn't the best school.
So, I chose not to go to my dream college. That's not something that is said very often, but that's how it went for me. Instead, I chose the school that I had only applied to because it was my dad's alma mater but that had the most to offer me- an outstanding program for my intended major, a scholarship, acceptance to the Honors Program, professors that were passionate about what they taught, and a town full of art, music, and spirit. I chose that school that felt like home from the very first step I took on its campus, and I haven't regretted it for a single moment or thought what if I had gone somewhere else. It may not have been my dream school at first, but UGA has become the perfect reality.