Throughout high school, I had dreamed of the northeast, of the west coast, of literally anywhere but Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I eventually had my heart set on Boston University as my first choice of university, and I -- mainly to make my parents happy -- also applied to Tulane University in New Orleans as my second choice, but I applied Early Decision to BU with what I consider the best application I could have put together. I had two high school teacher recommendations, an employer recommendation, and a high school counsellor recommendation. I had two of the best essays I had ever written. I filled the application of my accolades from high school. I sent it in less than 24 hours before the portal for Early Decision closed, and I waited.
I anxiously checked my email multiple times per day for the next month and a half until December 11th. By this time I was sure that I had not gotten in. The latest BU was releasing Early Decision admits that year was December 15th. I was sitting in my local Starbucks with my two best friends, and out of habit, I checked my email. At the top of my unread emails, I had something from BU. It contained a link to the website where my admission decision was. I clicked the link and entered my login credentials.
That's all I had to read. They didn't tell you congratulations if you didn't get in. I was admitted to my dream school. I was -- for all intents and purposes -- a member of Boston University's class of 2020. That day, I began planning my move to Boston, regardless of the fact that my parents were less than thrilled. I didn't let them rain on my parade.
One day toward the end of January, my dad sat me down and told me straight up that he wasn't going to let me take out student loans to pay for college when I had the ability to go to school in-state for next to nothing. This crushed me. Staying in-state was not in the cards for me.
I was accepted to Tulane as well, and they offered me a partial tuition scholarship, but it still would have been an absurd amount of money, even as an in-state student. My parents eventually forced me to apply to LSU in the middle of April. I begrudgingly entered all of my information and got accepted. On the outside, I was pissed at my parents. On the inside, I was humiliated and disappointed. I had built myself up so much that I had created this illusion that LSU had nothing to offer me, so I angrily signed up for orientation at the earliest date that I could and hoped that I would get into at least some of the classes that I wanted.
Fast forward to the beginning of July. I attended the same orientation dates as one of my friends from high school, so we rode together and griped about how awful LSU was going to be. I was more accepting of where I ended up at this point, so I was more willing to go into the school year with an open mind, but I was still disappointed.
The first thing we observed at the start of orientation was a group of students dancing and lip-syncing about LSU onstage in the student union. I like to think of this as the turning point in my outlook. Over the next two days, I learned a bit about LSU and got my classes for the upcoming semester scheduled. I also learned about a program called STRIPES that LSU puts on every year where first-year students stay in dorms for a few nights and get to learn about LSU and meet new people in groups. A few of my friends were going, so I figured, why not? I had nothing to lose from the experience.
Over the course of STRIPES, I learned a ton about LSU; I met a few friends, and most importantly, I fell in love with LSU. Maybe it wasn't where I wanted to go, but it's where I needed to go.
Last semester, I met a bunch of new people and a few people that I like to believe will be lifelong friends. I've had misadventures. I've spent countless nights in Middleton Library until ungodly hours of the morning. I've fallen off of the pedestal this I put myself on for so long.
Throughout my journey from hating to loving LSU, the most important thing that I've learned is that I'm not "too good" for anyone. In high school, I defined myself as and was known as the person who thought that he was better than everyone. Now, I take people as they are, and I don't go out of my way to put on a facade and make them love me or hate me. And though I may still think about changing my major three times per week, I don't feel obligated to recreate myself for anyone but me. There will be people that love me and be there through thick and thin through it all. And though my journey is ongoing, I like to think that it wouldn't be quite the same if I were anywhere else.