I am so very happy in college. I love the people I am among, the conversations I have, even the cafeteria food three times a day. I love the trees on my walk to class and the history to every building on campus and the passion and ideas of students and teachers. I love waking up in my dorm room and knowing that I am able to do what I have wanted to do.
I see my decision as multifaceted. At one point in my life – perhaps when I was very young – I decided to go to college. This was, in part, influenced by my family, my happiness in school, and the town I lived in. It was not necessarily a conscious decision. I am fortunate that I took time to evaluate if I did want to go to college after high school at all. For awhile, I considered taking a year off of school and volunteering. I feel that my ultimate decision to attend college has been enriched because it was a conscious one.
Important choice deserves more than a weekend
Deciding between colleges, then, came down to a weekend. It was a difficult weekend – one where I could not focus on anything but the coming deadline to declare which place I wanted to spend the next four years of my life. On Friday, I thought I was going to one school. On Saturday, it was the next. I considered the benefits and costs but ultimately, I took a risk. Everyone who makes a decision takes this risk. Everyone who chooses one mutually exclusive event over another mourns the loss of the other life they could have lived.
If I could do it over, I would take more than a weekend. I know that I made a decision that was risky and right for me and that I made it myself, but I cut it close. Worse than making the wrong decision is not making a decision at all and having something eventually forced upon you. Give yourself time to come to a conclusion about your future.
Of course there are struggles with going to a new place. My family is halfway across the country. My high school friends are scattered. I miss the apple orchard, pumpkin carving, and leaf raking that marked every fall until now. But there are wonderful things to appreciate in my new home. I can check out library books for four months. A few weeks ago, I had a dinner of locally grown food outside with new friends from my dorm – perhaps a new fall tradition.
Stay positive, and true to your values
A positive attitude is important when we go to a new place. It is never exactly what we imagine. Staying optimistic allows us to look at the parts we did not expect with amusement and enthusiasm instead of concern. I was awoken early one morning by screams in my dorm – there had been a cockroach in one of my hallmate’s rooms. Instead of being disgusted by this, the girls I live with and I bonded over removing it. It has become a joke, something we share, because we approached it with a positive attitude.
Anywhere you go after high school involves more freedom. My last advice is to take this time and make a conscious decision about who you are. Do not let something as important as the person you become be forced upon you by not deciding what your values are. In the past two months, keeping a journal, talking to my family, and getting involved in activities I care about has kept me grounded to who I am and who I want to be.