If I had a dollar for every time someone confused my college, Haverford College, for Harvard, then I probably wouldn’t even need financial aid anymore. And if I got another dollar for every time someone seemed disappointed that I explained that I was going to Haverford and not Harvard, then I would also be pretty well-off. The truth is that nobody has quite understood why I would pick a small liberal arts college in Pennsylvania over the Ivy League school in Massachusetts. During my college search, I wasn’t only looking for the best college; I was looking for a place I could call home.
When doing my college search, I took several factors into account such as academics, financial aid, and class sizes. I knew that I wanted to major in Political Science, a major offered at most institutions. Financial aid was also not a problem when choosing between the two schools due to their no-loan policy for low-income students. As for class sizes, most classes at both colleges are capped at 30. So therefore it came down to one thing: environment.
I was lucky enough to visit both institutions before my application process, so this allowed me to see which campus was best suited for me. First on my list was Harvard. Expecting to be swept off my feet by Harvard, I went in thinking that this college would be the one for me. The dreams of being a Latina at such a prestigious university were interfering with my visit. Truth is, despite all of my preconceptions, Harvard simply did not feel like a place I could imagine myself in for the next four years of my life. My class visits went great and the administration was very welcoming, but the students around me did not seem like they wanted to be classmates; rather, they seemed like competitors. I did not feel like I belonged, and that is not solely because I am Hispanic and low-income. My personality was not similar to theirs, nor did I find the interest to interact with them very much. Harvard may feel like home to some people, but for me, I knew that I had to keep looking for my niche, my home.Though the odds were against me when trying to visit Haverford (because I almost missed my flight), I did end up making it and I’m glad I did. At the time, I was having second thoughts about moving across the country for college, so I hesitated to enjoy the experience fully. However, during one night of my stay, one of the Haverford students took my group and me on a nature walk. Despite it being dark, I was able to see the beauty of the campus. After arriving back to my hall, I got to talk to Haverford students. What I experienced during these conversations was different than what I experienced at other schools. The students were “real” and did not only tell me about the good points; they also told me about the bad points. However, they still showed their school spirit, and I saw how enthusiastic the students were about Haverford. With an enthusiastic student body also comes an enthusiastic faculty. The faculty was very supportive; they were interested in what I wanted to contribute to the world and they showed me that they would help me make that happen. Haverford felt like home, and even if my classmates still have no idea where it is, I know that I made the decision that’s best suited for me.