Let me first start by being frank: In high school, I knew that I was going to a good college. My parents pushed for it and encouraged me to apply to top-tier private colleges and universities. They did so under the premise that, if I got in, I would be able to go. All I had to do was worry about getting in.
So, I did, and I focused on putting together the best application I possibly could. I spent weeks crafting my personal statement and writing the nineteen (yes nineteen!) supplemental essays that these universities wanted. I studied intensively for my SAT and worked hard for good grades in my classes. I was involved extensively around my school, doing things like student government, varsity sports, and advanced music.
I'm an NYC native and I always envisioned myself going to school right here. My family is really important to me and we are tight-knit, so a majority of my college choices were in New York. I was really interested in Barnard College, New York University, and Vassar College as my "dream schools". They are all well known for their academic prestige and connections that I felt were essential, as I want to become an immigration lawyer. I toured them all and I fell in love with each of them in their own ways. Barnard and Vassar had gorgeous campuses. NYU had the hustle and the energy of the city. After my applications were in, it was a waiting game.
In March 2019, I was lucky enough to get accepted to all three of these schools. I couldn't have been happier and I felt like my hard work had finally paid off.
However, there was a catch. These schools were insanely out of my price range. I had filed EVERYTHING for financial aid: FAFSA, CSS Profile, and I actively applied for outside scholarships. My estimated cost of attendance was a minimum of $70,000 a year for all my "dream schools." My parents are immigrants and city workers, I knew that there was no way we could afford it. I didn't want to take out loans, as I want to save the money for law school. My parents and I came to the consensus that it wasn't in my best interest to attend these institutions for undergrad given my circumstances.
Nonetheless, it was extremely difficult for me to let go of these schools. I cried for days as I looked at the acceptance letters and I blamed my parents for leading me on. "How could they say I could go initially, only to take it away in the end? They said money wasn't a problem, but they were clearly wrong." I wrestled with these feelings and I eventually had to put them to the side as I still needed to pick a place to attend for the fall.
I looked at my other options, which I was extremely fortunate to have. My next choice was Fordham University. It still had the city energy I craved, the academic prestige I felt was essential, but, most importantly, it was affordable. It was an opportunity for an amazing education at a reasonable price. I got scholarships and gift aid, which made it possible for me to commit.
Now, I know that "dream schools" are not always a possibility for everyone and that's OK. I'm still making my peace with it, but I know that I will be in school for another degree. Every school is what you make of it, and I am determined to make my college experience the best it possibly can be. That's why I started writing for the Odyssey at Fordham. I haven't even graduated high school yet, but I want to ensure I stay involved and meet amazing and hard-working people. I'm so excited to see what the future will bring.
To anyone who is struggling with a big decision: Be brave and choose what is right for you.