Feeling alone as you swim through the terrifying waters known as the college admission process? Have no fear! We have five seniors blogging about ups, downs, and random in-betweens of their college process for the next 12 months (from June 2013 to June 2014!). Sit back, relax, and get that “OMG I totally get you, bro” feeling. Information for how to contact a blogger will be at the bottom of his/her posts.

So, remember how I said I’m terrible at making decisions? Yeah, I wasn’t kidding about that. Because somehow, in the time between writing my last entry and now, I somehow did all of the following:

  1. Decided that I should go to film school. Like, not a film studies major at a liberal arts college, but a full-on film school that you apply to directly.
  2. Totally ditched my former college list and started fresh with this prerequisite in mind (hey, I did say it was subject to drastic change).
  3. Resolved that New York University’s Tisch Film & Television Institute is the perfect school for me and no school could ever be better.
  4. Became racked with fear at the prospect of living in a ginormous, far-away city and attending a college of 20,000+ students with no real campus.
  5. Did some major soul-searching and realize that my college should NOT terrify me.
  6. Re-realized what I actually want and need in a college and saw that NYU, although a great school, is not the place for me.
  7. Constructed a new college list very similar to my previous one, and felt happier than ever with my potential future schools.
Me, when I think about living in New York City.

Me, when I think about living in New York City.

Ok, let me explain. I didn’t just wake up one morning and think, “I’m going to worry my parents and confuse everyone!” It all started about a month ago when I took a trip with my mom to New York, or as I like to call it, “Oh My God This Place Is Terrifying Why Are There So Many People?!”. While there, we met up with my mom’s old friend, who also happens to be a Tisch Film alumnus. I’d never considered NYU since it fit basically none of my criteria, but since we were there anyway I asked him to show me around the film center briefly.

And let me tell you, IT. WAS. AMAZING. All around the building there are posters for movies made by Tisch Alumni, the students looked excited and engaged, and there were movie theaters in the freaking school.

Nevertheless, the coolness of the film center alone was not enough to deter me from my already formed college list. After all, lots of smaller schools still have big flashy visual arts centers. What really sent me into a state of reconsideration was when my mom’s friend nonchalantly said (and I am paraphrasing slightly), “If you want to go to film school, you should go here or USC. Most other film programs aren’t worth much.”

Now, this got me really worried. Would I be able to get work in the film industry if I didn’t go to a big-name film school? This, plus a few people already asking me, “Wesleyan? Isn’t that in Ohio?” caused me to completely doubt everything I thought I had decided upon.

What I imagine going to class at film school is like. Image from Cobalt.

What I imagine going to class at film school is like.
Image from Cobalt.

So, after returning to Reno, I began fervently researching prestigious film schools such as NYU, USC, UCLA, and Chapman. None of them really seemed like a perfect fit (or even an “all right” fit, for that matter), but, after a lot of stressed-out deliberation, I decided that NYU was the most ok for me. I just thought that it was better for a school to get me into the industry than to actually be a good place for me. So, I told everyone–  my parents, friends, teachers– that I was now on the road to the big, scary city of New York.

I stayed in this mindset for about a week, secretly feeling frightened about my choice but hoping that it would pay off in the long run. It wasn’t until I had a little heart-to-heart with my 10th grade English teacher (who I have to give major props to) that I saw how irrationally I was acting. When I told her I wanted to go to NYU, she was shocked. “I really see you at a Swarthmore, or a Brown,” she replied. I had to agree, but explained to her that since I want to be a filmmaker, I had go to film school. She then told me that in order to be creative and really hone your craft, you have to be in an environment where you are comfortable. She also suggested that a well-rounded liberal arts education helps you get a good perspective and become better able to communicate with an audience. Her advice kind of blew my mind and once again had me questioning my decisions.

In addition to this chat, I also had the privilege of talking to a recent American Film Institute graduate who is now working as a film director. She assured me that no, you do not need to go to a prestigious film school to become a successful filmmaker, and that I should go to a school that I actually like.


If I could work on a show one tenth as cool as Buffy, I would be happy.
Image from Beyond Hollywood.

So, with the support of these two awesome ladies, I stopped pursuing NYU and once again started thinking about where I would be happy and feel at home. I am now more confident than ever that Wesleyan, Vassar, and Sarah Lawrence (plus more) are all good colleges for me. And I didn’t even mention that, although it’s not Tisch, Wesleyan does have a pretty legit film program (ranked 7th in the world). I mean, Joss Whedon went there! My college list is once again filled with little colleges that seemingly no one has ever heard of (“So you’re sure Wesleyan isn’t an all-girls school?”), but I am no longer concerned that this will hinder my ability to be creative or successful in the future.

I guess the moral of the story is that college is more than a place where you learn how to get a job; it’s a place to learn about yourself, about the world, and how to be independent. I’m really glad I learned this lesson so early in the year. Plus, if ever do stop being afraid of New York, there’s always grad school.

You can get in contact with Celeste to complain about the college admissions process and celebrate being left-handed through her personal Tumblr.

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the author

Celeste Barnaby is a senior at a tiny private school in Reno, Nevada, also known as the Neon Babylon. She has committed to attend Wesleyan University and plans to major in film studies (but she's keeping an open mind). When she’s not stressing out over her schoolwork or procrastinating said work, she enjoys horseback riding, writing macabre short stories, and shopping for flannels. You can observe her attempts at humor and various television-related obsessions on her Tumblr.

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  1. Raul on July 4, 2013

    “My college list is once again filled with little colleges that seemingly no one has ever heard of…”

    Too relevant for words! Glad to get the insight of a fellow Sarah Lawrence hopeful.

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