The process of applying college can be a time of various emotions. There’s excitement for the future, but also some fear of the unknown. Deciding on which college to attend is a big commitment. Many parallels can be seen between the college admissions process and the experience of getting married. Keep in mind that although I have gone through the college application process before, I have never been married. Therefore, my idea of what it’s like to get married is based on pop culture.
Beginning the Search
Similar to dating, you spend a lot of time searching before you decide to make a serious commitment. Most people don’t meet their true love on the first date you go on or discover your dream college on your first tour. The process can be long and lacking of clarity. There will be many dates and much time spent researching and visiting colleges. Each school has its unique pros and cons just like humans. After a while, you might discover you enjoy the personality of a liberal arts college more than a large, public university. The school you visit will try to impress you just like a potential partner. For a smaller group of people, they will know they have found “the one” the minute they step foot on campus. There is no need to keep searching because they are sure they have found the college that fits them perfectly.
After you have considered all your options, it is time to become more serious. Do you share the same values? Will you still want to be associated with this college or person years from now? Just like the Carly Rae Jepsen song, you’re telling the colleges on your list, “I really like you.” Now that you’ve signaled your interest, it’s time to wait and see what happens. Receiving a college acceptance letter in the mail is like a proposal. The school you are interested in is equally interested in you! You might even end up with multiple college proposals. The ball is now in your court.
Now you will have to decide which college to say “I do!” to. It can be a relief to finally know the plans for your future, but it’s not unusual to have some nerves whether you’re sending in your college deposit or deciding to get married. Any big life change is bound to bring about some nervousness. After a couple becomes engaged, a relationship status change and a picture of the ring usually appear on Facebook. On May 1st, National College Decision Day, social media is flooded with images of seniors in their chosen colleges’ gear.
Both weddings and college can involve big expenses. For those getting married, there’s questions of who will pay for the dress, venue, and food. High school seniors must also figure out financial aid. Do they have enough of their own savings or will they need to do work-study to help pay. How much is their expected family contribution, and is their family even willing to pay it?
If you’re the valedictorian, you have the task of speaking during the graduation ceremony just like a couple exchanging their vows. Forget walking down the aisle, it’s time for you to have your moment walking across the stage. Instead of throwing a bouquet of flowers in the air, you will be tossing your graduation cap.
After the ceremony, it’s time to party! The invitation list for a graduation party can feel just as stressful as one for a wedding. Do you invite everyone who has invited you to theirs? Is it really necessary to invite your great aunt you only met once? Your parents will likely have different opinions about the big day than what you desire.
Your New Life
Once you begin college, you are a part of your college’s network of past and present students. Your new peers will become a new set of family members. Like in-laws, some will play a big role in your life while others will be more distant.
Unfortunately, not all marriages or college decisions work out as planned. People decide its best to get divorced and students discover they are not at the right college for them. There’s marriage counseling, and students have advisors to help connect them to school resources they may not know of. Sometimes a small change may be all that’s need to improve the situation. Ultimately, both processes are about deciding what will make you happiest.