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I remember looking at colleges as early on as my freshman year of high school—I was obsessed. The Princeton Review, US News and World Report, and CollegeProwler were my most frequented bookmarks on Google Chrome. My room was littered with facts and statistics regarding what SAT scores I needed to get into x university for y program. I planned a handful of college visits before I even turned 16.

It’s no question, then, that my neuroses would evolve into over seventeen college visits and fifteen college applications two years later: only one of which, of course, had no supplemental essay. In conjunction with pursuing my IB Diploma, my pursuit of a college acceptance only added to the exhaustion that plagued my early senior year. The Common Application became my newest preoccupation, and, quite frankly, the four months that I spent perfecting it are now a blur. Nevertheless, I was well-prepared for this process. My schools ranged from safety to target to reach, all in varied areas of the country and all with liberal arts programs that I was interested in. The one criterion? I longed to go to college in a city—especially New York City, an hour away from my New Jersey home.

It may surprise you that one school on my list did not fit this mold. It’s even more remarkable to note that this school was the one that I wound up submitting my deposit to, the one that I now attend, and the one that I cannot live without. Choosing to pursue my undergraduate education at Villanova University was the best decision that I have ever made.

I applied to Villanova through its early action program in the fall of 2012. My father is an extremely proud Villanova alumnus; despite this, he never pushed me to apply and always encouraged whatever I felt was right. Though I’d watched Wildcats basketball since before I could walk, I never felt a huge attachment to Villanova other than through my father. I liked the school, but never did I declare it as my first choice. That was New York University—right in the heart and soul of Manhattan. I dreamed of an acceptance letter in a purple NYU envelope, but did not apply early decision out of fear, opting for regular decision. Instead, I applied to both schools (along with thirteen others) and hoped for the best. Fingers crossed!

In December of that year, I received a letter in a small white envelope. In the corner of the envelope was the Villanova University seal. My stomach dropped—was this my first rejection? And from a school I’d considered a target? Already disappointed at such a sight, I tore open the letter, and read an extremely dreadful statement that began, generically, with “Dear Ms. Batsides”, followed by a lengthy explanation as to why my application was to be deferred into the regular decision pool because “a decision could not be made at this time.” As if it were actually possible, my heart sank deeper into my chest.

I was, admittedly, startled by my emotional response to the deferral. This, in retrospect, was the first sign of any major feelings toward Villanova, and I felt defeated. In my type-A mind (one that clearly held tons of pent-up stress regarding the college process), I was rejected. I was never going to receive an acceptance letter. I’ll make a second admission: tears may or may not have been shed that night. Both of my parents reassured me that this meant nothing, and that I would just have to wait a few months longer.

These months passed, and I received the slew of admissions responses from thirteen of my other schools along the way. March of 2013 came along, and I remember being on spring break and anticipating a trip to Florida with my two best high school friends. I was scrolling through my Twitter feed one morning and came across a tweet sent out by a girl from my high school—“ACCEPTED TO VILLANOVA!!! 🙂 :)” Instantly, my mind began racing. I could not form a coherent thought as I mindlessly rushed to log into the MyNova applicant portal on Villanova’s website—my dad was at work, my mother on the couch in our living room, me at the kitchen counter. I entered in my username and password, and took a deep breath in.

The feeling of overwhelming joy that I felt when I heard the voice of Villanova’s President, Father Donohue, tell me that I had been admitted into the Villanova University Class of 2017 was astonishingly incredible. I remember letting out a girlish shriek and my mother rushing to my side. I remember us jumping up and down. I most vividly remember calling my father on the phone to tell him the news, and I remember his proud voice congratulating me. It was priceless.

Of course, my happiness quickly turned to confusion and stress when I was accepted to NYU two weeks later. I had been admitted to two universities that I clearly preferred over the others that I’d applied to. What was I to do? The decision-maker came in the form of NYU’s Accepted Students Day and Villanova’s Candidate’s Day. I would attend both—one on a Saturday and one on the following day, a Sunday—in one weekend and hopefully emerge with a clear victor in mind.

Both events were flawlessly put together. I felt so welcomed, and so excited to even be going to college. Visiting a college once you’ve been accepted, as I’m sure many agree, is wonderful. It is SO much more comforting to know that you’re already “in,” walking around and surveying the campus in a manner that I jokingly associated with the phrase, “You’ve seen what I can do for you. Now, what can you do for me?” I wanted to know what would draw me in, what the deciding factor would be. I left both events feeling satisfied, and had an enormously difficult decision to make.

Some would argue that both schools have stellar reputations. This is true. How, though, was I to reconcile an old love with a new one? In the end, my decision to attend Villanova—one that I’ll never regret—boiled down to these facts:

I stepped onto Villanova’s campus on the outskirts of Philadelphia on a sunny, shining morning. Students lined the walkways clapping and cheering, boldly brandishing the school spirit that makes a Villanovan a Villanovan. I learned of the University motto, Veritas, Unitas, Caritas—Truth, Unity, Love—that permeates its very essence. I walked through the heart of campus that I now walk through each and every day with a hopeful and proud disposition.
I had a feeling in my gut. I knew. This was it.

I was home.

In this home (Villanova actually means ‘new home’ in Latin, believe it or not), I am furthering my education in an enriching, caring environment. I am looking forward to pursuing a career in political journalism and public policy with some of the nation’s best professors and educators. I am making friends that will last a lifetime. I am introducing new students to the fulfillment that exists in being a Villanovan. Most importantly, I am learning about myself and looking forward to my future.

I have–no doubt–found my perfect match.

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