Reflections on the Big Decision

By Ariel Benjamin on September 15, 2013
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The main factors to consider when thinking about postsecondary life are your priorities and your definition of success.

I define success as taking advantage of all your potential, pursuing and achieving your goals, and being happy with your life. This definition also supports the individual who doesn’t go to college but wholeheartedly pursues an artistic career, or the individual who goes to vocational school instead of the standard four-year university.

Then you must take that definition and discover what you’re capable of. In some cases, you have to step out of your comfort zone in order to find out what else you’re comfortable in.

This was a big issue for me when I was deciding which university to attend. The decision was between a school near home and a school in Tennessee, where I’d never even been before.

I was scared to leave my family and especially my little sister. We had a strong relationship, and I’d always looked out for her and been there to help her with her schoolwork. I feared the separation may have been too much for her, or too much for me.

After grueling contemplation, I knew it was time for a new chapter in my life, and time for me to throw myself into the unknown in preparation for life as an adult.

A good role model 

I’m far from regretful of my decision. I’ve had no trouble fending for myself, and I also cherish the mental challenges that have already helped me to improve myself. I am content with my life here.

What made me happiest was to hear how great an influence I’ve been on my sister. She has taken to bettering herself in school and declaring proudly that she will attend my university one day. So far, being a good role model for my sister has been the greatest and most fulfilling success.

Still, I wonder if I’m in the right place. I know that no college is perfect, but some of Vanderbilt’s flaws are ones that are of great importance to me.

For example, they don’t have dance in the curriculum, and dance isn’t as big of a deal in Tennessee as it was back home in the Northeast. But it’s a very big deal to me, and at times I feel deprived, as if big part of me is being suppressed and underdeveloped.

Some things to consider 

There is a general list of pros and cons to help you decide what’s right for you when considering attending a four year college. While it can be an easy road towards a career, it can also be a slow one.

If you’re ready and willing to jump into a career, four-year college may not be right for you. You may find yourself spending money on and sitting in classes that you feel don’t accelerate your specific career path.

You should also consider the atmosphere of the universities on your list. While I love my place in Tennessee, the atmosphere here is very relaxed and slow paced and I’d prefer a setting where something’s always happening, where there’s always something new to be discovered to satisfy my curiosity.

Also consider your desired method of networking. It is very easy to network in college, and there are useful resources all around you. However, you could also benefit by networking independently in a way that directly engages you in a career.

And finally, while college is full of resources and there is no other experience like being in a four-year university, the cost and pressure can be too much. Cost was a very big issue for me.

In the end, whichever path you choose all comes down to what you prioritize. In some cases, the road less traveled isn’t such a bad idea.

About the Author

Ariel Benjamin

Ariel Benjamin

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