If you’re anything like I was during my junior and senior years of high school, around this time of year, I was dedicating almost all of my time into narrowing down the list of schools I wanted to apply to and ones that were definite options for me to actually attend. The biggest regret I have about this process is being so narrow-minded when it came to what I was looking for in schools. I failed to realize that no school would be 100% perfect and that there were flaws in every school as well as many perks at every school. Thankfully, I ended up at a school that I absolutely love and can’t see myself anywhere else but a large part of me wonders what would have happened if I had been a little less narrow minded about my list.
I know what you’re thinking… “I know everything I want, why wouldn’t I look for schools that offer all of that”. While that does have some merit, I think something I didn’t realize back when I was a junior is that my priorities would change once I got to college. When I was compiling my list, I was on the hunt for small schools that had beautiful libraries and tons of free fitness classes and big sports teams. I wanted clubs and Greek life and good food; I wanted everything.
However, sitting here more than halfway through my first semester, I’m realizing that I have very different priorities than I did 2 years ago. For example, I rarely go to the library, even though it’s beautiful, because I’ve realized that I do my best work around background noise, which is something that’s virtually nonexistent in a library. I ended up not rushing because I realized that it was a huge commitment and I didn’t feel passionately enough about Greek life to dedicate my time to it. Even though I’ve been to a couple Zumba classes here and there, I don’t really utilize the fitness classes at all. I do, however, enjoy the options of food I have and how amazing the sports teams are because they make games so much more fun.
Personally, if I could do it all over again, I wish I had focused on two things: the size of the school and the reputations of its academics. I’m fortunate enough to go to a school that’s exactly the size I wanted and is good at a variety of different academic programs and I think this is a huge part of the reason as to why I really like it here. Sure, the fact that I have an amazing group of people writing for the paper to work with is a huge plus and the sports teams, above-average dining hall and a beautiful campus are all pluses but at the end of the day, the two things that matter to me the most is that I go to a relatively small school that’s great for what I want to do later in life.
For those of you who are spending part of your holiday breaks trying to narrow down your list of schools to apply to and decide where you definitely want to go, please try to keep an open mind with things other than size and academic programs. If the library isn’t as pretty as you want it to be, don’t let it deter you from applying because you may not even use the library. If you’re a huge football fan and your school doesn’t have football, apply anyway. You may end up being a huge Hockey fan and you can always watch the football games with some of your friends in your dorm room. You can also always apply to a couple schools that match everything you want completely but I wish I could have had some more options a year ago and I would hate for you guys to feel just as limited as I did back in May.