Guidance Counselor Discouraged Me From Going To Dream School

My High School Guidance Counselor Told Me I Couldn't Do It, But Here I Am Proving Her Wrong

First of all, yes, I am ambitious because I know I'm up for the challenge.

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Two years ago, I applied to Temple University. At the time, I didn't think much of sending in the application, just that another option in case my dream school did not work out. However, applying to Temple is among one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Yet, I had a lot of people that doubted me, which includes my own high school guidance counselor.

My high school administration made us turn in acceptance letters to universities to print on the back of the Senior Recognition programs, but also for bragging rights most likely. Handing in these letters gave us access to sign college tee shirts posted all over the guidance office, and was a visual stamp of approval from the high school that they did something right.

The last person who went to Temple University before me was back in 2008. I don't know the kid. I don't know their major. However, I do know that they managed to do something extraordinary and left the area.

It might be just a Western Pennsylvania thing, but it seems like nobody leaves. Everyone stays a relatively 90-mile radius from our little hometown. Those who do dare to venture out of city limits seem to come back home within the year. My guidance counselor told me I was going to end up the same.

When I turned in my acceptance letter to Temple, I remember the secretary giving me a funny look. "Wow, this is your thirteen acceptance letter! A little ambitious, are we?"

First of all, yes, I am ambitious because I know I'm up for the challenge.

Second of all did not ask for your opinion.

A few weeks later, I went out to Philadelphia to visit Temple at an accepted students day event in February 2017. That was when I fell in love. Not just with Temple, but with the city of brotherly love. I just knew from the moment I got here that it was meant to be. I ended up committing to Temple just based off that first visit. I was on cloud nine!

When I returned to school and officially told all my friends and teachers of my decision, most were excited.

Then there were the few, like my guidance counselor, who tried telling me to reconsider her. She never listened to me that I needed to get away from my hometown because I wasn't happy and craved something more. She told me that I would be better off at a community college because I wouldn't be putting the strain on my parents to meet the "expensive college tuition and cost of living in a city."

I think if my parents didn't want me going to Temple, they would have tried talking me out of committing or frankly even applying, to the school in the first place. I mean, really, that is why I didn't go to Michigan State or George Mason University.

When guilt tripping me into reconsidering didn't work out, my guidance counselor then tried telling me how dangerous Philadelphia was. That it was an area corrupt in drugs and gun violence, and that my safest option was going somewhere closer to home.

I hate to break it to you, but all cities are dangerous. Even Pittsburgh, so unless you never want to go to Pittsburgh again, you're wrong.

It then got to the point that she no longer was helping me find scholarships. All her suggestions of money to apply to would not follow me to the other side of the state since they were locally sponsored and only pertained to certain colleges of their choosing. Others I couldn't apply because they were for majors in STEM, which I am not.

My high school guidance counselor never took time to discuss my needs for after college. I had teachers and the best Penn State Talent Search counselor who all rallied for my success. My parents were the ones who pushed me to explore every option.

Now in my second year in college, here I am. I am proving my high school counselor wrong when she said I would end up transferring after my first year. I pushed myself to be better and take advantage of every opportunity. I am living my best life.

Never let someone try to hold you from your ambitions. Sometimes, you are going to try to weigh you down because they are envious of never taking the risk themselves. Just go on living your own best life and proving them wrong.

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To The Girl Who Wears My Jersey

Now that you wear my jersey, here's what I'd like to tell you.
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To the girl who wears my jersey,

As an athlete, a jersey and number is more than just something you wear during a game. It means something more to an athlete.

One of the saddest parts of an athlete's career is when they have to give that jersey up for someone else to wear when they move on in life. After sitting in a box for a couple months after graduation, another athlete comes along and takes the jersey as their own. So, here's some things I would like to say to the girl that is wearing my jersey.

I hope you are working hard at the game. I hope that you are putting in extra hours when practice is over, and going 110% doing whatever you are doing. Enjoy the time you have now because soon it will be gone. It goes by in the blink of an eye and before you know it you will leaving your jersey behind just like I did, so cherish every moment. When I wore that jersey, I thought that the games and practices would never end until it got close to the end.

That jersey you're wearing has been through everything. It's gone through winning streaks, heartbreaking losses, comebacks, and blowouts. It's full of memories that I made with my teammates for years. There were the long bus rides or the pre-game traditions. There were the times we went out to eat and I got food on it, and times where it held my tears after a tough loss. That jersey you have has literally been with me through blood, sweat, and tears. It's seen all of the hard work I have put in on the field or court. I met so many different and amazing people in that jersey. I've played for coaches that have showed me perspectives of the game that I never saw before. I traveled to small towns, big cities, beaches, and other places I never thought I would see. It's an exciting time when you have that jersey on. You will meet new people, learn new things, and travel to places you never thought you would go before.

The jersey you are wearing means something to me, because I picked it for a reason and wore it for so many years. I picked the number on the jersey because it has a story, like every athlete's number does. The story can be as simple as it was picked for me and grew on me, or it could be your role model wore that number, so you chose it too. Another story could be that a family member wore it so you carried on the tradition. Whatever the story was, it's your turn to add your story to the jersey.

Be legendary. The truth is sometimes when someone thinks about that jersey you're wearing they'll think of the people that wore it before you. They think of the way the ones before you played, but that's all going to change. You are going to be added to the legacy and tradition. It's time for you to make your own legacy and name for yourself. It's about making people think that whoever wears the number next will be as great as the one before. Play to the best of your ability and work hard every day to be better than the next girl. Play with heart, be humble, and don't disrespect the tradition, team, or organization you are a part of.

Finally, play for someone other than yourself. Play for the name on the front of your jersey more than the one on the back. Play for everyone who got you to the point you are at now. Play for the ones who don't have the opportunity to play the game you love. Play for the little girl who watches you. Play for all the ones who wore the jersey before you.

Above all else, be your own player, create a name for yourself, and be humble.


Cover Image Credit: Caroline Showalter

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To All the Seniors Making Their College Decision

Decision day is just around the corner, but this doesn't have to be a stressful time.

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This time last year I was agonizing over what I was sure would be the hardest decision of my life: choosing which college to enroll in.

I had narrowed down my options to two colleges that I was absolutely in love with. I could picture myself on both campuses living out my ideal college experience. They were both great schools, and the idea of having to choose one and leave the other behind was tearing me up inside. I felt like I was alone in this feeling, but the truth is, there are thousands of high school seniors who feel the exact same way this time of year.

Society likes to romanticize the whole college commitment process, but it can be the most stressful time of your teenage life.

I remember seeing my friends post perfectly-posed pictures, beaming with happiness while decked out in their college apparel, their picturesque future campus serving as the backdrop to their college announcement. While I was happy for my friends, I was increasingly anxious as I felt the clock tick down to decision day. I had still yet to wrap my head around the fact that I was graduating high school, and leaving everything I had ever known behind. The idea of finding a new home that I believed would define the rest of my personal and professional life was stressful, to say the least. After all, I was 17 and had never had to make a decision that I felt would alter the course of my life.

Where you go to college does not define you.

I was lucky enough to get into schools that have great reputations, but the reality is that no matter where you go to college, you are going to be able to make the most out of your degree and be successful. My advice is to avoid unnecessary opinions about the colleges you are considering. This means staying off of all the forums and discussion boards where people trash colleges for no reason. These discussion boards are toxic, and I know that they negatively impacted my decision process. You need to make the decision for yourself because after all, you are the one who will be attending that college.

While you shouldn't hesitate to ask for advice from the people you love and trust, do not let their opinions be the deciding factor for you.

I was fortunate enough to know a few people who had chosen between the same two colleges that I had narrowed my decision down to; finding out why they chose either college was helpful to gather additional information, but I never let it heavily influence my feelings towards either school. This is the first step into adulthood for you, and it is important that you arrive at your decision in an intellectually independent manner so that you end up where you are supposed to be. That being said, there are multiple factors that helped me arrive at what I knew in my heart was the right decision.

Sadly, financial aid offers need to play an important role in your college decision.

You must weigh the cost of your attendance versus its benefits. With tuition on the rise, most prospective college students need some form of financial assistance in order to pay for their education. Tuition is sky-high at most private colleges, and no matter how much it hurts to think about it, the cost of your attendance must play a role in your decision. It might sound great to attend a prestigious institution with an impressive national reputation, but it might be better for you in the long run to attend a slightly lesser known institution that is more affordable. Calculating your expected student loan debt can be difficult mentally and emotionally, but you need to know what you are getting yourself into. Once you graduate, you will need to start paying off your loans so it is essential that you plan for that.

There are ways you can help ease the financial burden of college, but don't count on it.

Apply for as many scholarships as you can, and hope that it works out in your favor. If you have not already, appeal your financial aid offer. There is always a chance that your dream school could give you more money. If you are willing to take on more debt because you have fallen absolutely in love with a college, then that is a sacrifice that you must think long and hard about. I advise talking to your parents about the possible implications of incurring student loan debt are. In the end, you have to choose the college that is the right fit for you, and sometimes that means taking on more debt.

Focus on the feeling you had when you stepped onto the campus for the first time.

Think back to your first visit. What was your first impression of the college? I know the first time I visited my future college, I fell absolutely in love. I remember feeling heartbroken at the thought that I could possibly be rejected from there during the application process. I was determined to be admitted because I loved it so much. I told everyone who would listen about how great my visit was and how excited I was to apply and possibly visit again. If you don't really remember how you felt during that first visit, or you are reconsidering a school you previously looked over, I would recommend visiting again. Most importantly, attend accepted students day! I attended accepted students day at both schools I was seriously considering, and it was after visiting the 2nd one that I realized the first one was the right choice. I took one final visit before I officially committed to my college, that way I could be confident that I had made the right decision.

Focus on the academic program that you are interested in.

I know that when I was making my final college decision, I focused too heavily on the social scene and extracurriculars at my school. Don't forget that when you are deciding to go to college, you are deciding what training you want to receive for your future career. Academics are central to your college experience, so look for a program that you feel can set you up for success. If you're going in undecided, still take a look at the process involved in deciding your major, and check to see that there are a few that pique your interest.

Focus on the atmosphere of the campus.

Take time to imagine yourself on campus and explore how you would fit into the campus community. Yes, it may be a great school, but if you cannot see yourself thriving as a student there, it is not the place for you. College is a big transition, and it will be even harder if you are trying to change yourself in order to be accepted. FInd a place that welcomes you, a place where you can be planted and bloom. If it comes down to it, make a pros and cons list and weigh which factors are deal-breakers for you versus compromises that you can make. No school is perfect, but they may be perfect for you.

In the end, you know in your heart which school is right for you, and no matter what, you will end up in the place that you belong.

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