Path to college had twists and turns - for the best

By Abby Johnson on December 12, 2013
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Senior year of high school. A year someone could not pay me enough money to repeat. That year consisted of three Advanced Placement classes, being President of the Spanish Club, a fashion columnist and features writer for my school’s newspaper, volunteering at a hospital and local fashion shows on the weekend, weekly vocal lessons, and taking ballroom dance classes twice a week.

From where I currently stand, I don’t know how I managed to pull that off. I’m not saying that college is about lounging around all day without a care in the world. However, for me it does not compare to the stress and all-nighters of high school.

The most stressful part about high school did not fall on my laundry list of activities. It was the college preparation that was truly difficult. Before high school, I envisioned applying to college would be a simple and painless process. I would tour a school on the weekend during my junior year, fall in love with the campus and all it offered, and essentially live happily ever after.

The school I’m at now is the same school I turned my nose up at a year and a half before my freshman year.
Not thrilled on campus visit …

As soon as my mom and I got on the exit ramp for Menomonie I decided it was the worst place on Earth. At the time I would have rather lived in my parents’ basement than attend that school. It didn’t have an exciting city atmosphere like NYU and Parsons, nor did it have the Hogwarts-style buildings of Lake Forest. Instead it had 10 different pizza places and a surplus of squirrels darting around campus.

At other schools I made an effort to put my best foot forward and truly impress the people in the admissions office. However, at Stout I made my mom go into the office and pick up brochures for me. I waited outside. I saw no point in making an effort for a school I would never end up at.

But here I am in Menomonie for the second year in a row. Back in high school I didn’t know of Stout’s existence, let alone the fact I was bound to end up here.     

Just what she needed

I’m glad I’m at Stout. It may not have Hogwarts-style architecture, the most vibrant downtown atmosphere or even be the best school on Earth. However, for me and where I am in life, it is just what I needed. If I would have gone to a school any further away than where I am I would have had a panic attack. I like living an hour away from home, having a relatively short commute between my dorm and classes, the activities I’m involved in, and the people I’ve met and even the classes I’ve taken.

What I’ve learned since starting college is that the good things in life are not as clear or obvious as expected. I expected to love all these other schools and eternally loathe Stout. With more time, Stout has grown on me. It was not my first choice or even my second or third. At times I think about how different the whole college experience would be if I had attended a school in a big city or one that is filled with Hogwarts architecture galore.

Challenges, confusion mixed with serendipity

Ultimately, I wouldn’t have it any other way. If I hadn’t come here I wouldn’t have made the friends I did, be the director for my school’s annual fashion show, or even have half the experiences I’ve had over the past year. My college path thus far has been challenging and confusing, but also serendipitous in the most wonderful ways. No amount of city life or Hogwarts architecture could possibly change that.

About the Author

Abby Johnson

Abby Johnson

University of Wisconsin-Stout, Menomonie, Wisconsin.
Hometown: Eagan, Minnesota.

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