It all began around the August before entering my senior year of high school. The panic, the fear, the anxiety. All of my thoughts were focused only on one word with too much meaning: “college.”
What is my future?
I was not one of those kids who grew up living and dreaming of only a single school. In fact, I had absolutely no idea where I planned on spending my college days. East coast? West coast? Not a clue. I had always known that I wanted to live away from home, but not too far.
I started looking through a lot of websites and books directed solely to helping high school seniors decide on which colleges to apply to. The only thing that I knew I wanted was a big school. Sometimes I didn’t even know what I was reading because my head was spinning all over the place. But eventually, I had narrowed it down to eleven schools. Yes, eleven. It seemed ridiculous to others, like some my friends who only planned on applying to about six or seven, some only two or three, but I just couldn’t make a decision. It wasn’t that easy for me. My guidance counselor thought I was crazy. My parents were frustrated because of the amount of money they spent on application fees. But for some reason, I thought I knew what I was doing. It took me a solid week to fill out the Common App to my liking. I had two teachers and my guidance counselor write my recommendation letters in the beginning of the school year, so I wouldn’t have to worry about fighting for their time when other students were seeking their recommendations as well. I applied “early action,” to every school that offered it because I thought that would give me a leg up on the thousands of other applicants. To this day, I’m not really sure if it did or didn’t.
There were only about three schools that I was sure I could get into. The others on the list were long shots, and I knew that. If I could go back, I would definitely have not applied to all those schools that I knew I would not get into. It just wasn’t worth it.
After all the applications were sent in and all the fees were paid, I played the waiting game. Hard. Every single day after school I would check my online accounts to see if there were any updates on my admission status. I practically threw myself at the mailbox when I got home from school to see if there were any big envelopes addressed to me. Even on Sundays, when there was no mail. It was a bit over the top.
I finally received my first acceptance letter a few days before Christmas. Along with the acceptance I also received a hefty scholarship, which really didn’t help considering the school was extremely expensive already. That letter reassured me that despite my thoughts of failure, I did have a future.
After the New Year, around the end of January and the beginning of February, I began hearing back from the majority of my schools. All of my friends started to figure out where they wanted to go, and I was still in a fog. I still had no idea what to do. At the end of March, I made a list of the number of acceptances I had. It looked like this: Yes-3, No- 5. I had realized that I had one school missing. That school was the University of Rhode Island. I had absolutely no idea why I applied there. I had only known one person who went there, and I never even visited the campus. But looking down at my list, the schools that accepted me didn’t seem like they were right for me. So, I did a little bit more research on URI.
It turned out that URI was exactly what I had wanted in of a school. So, I began to basically harass the Admissions Office about my application. After about twenty phone calls over a two-week period, someone eventually emailed me back requesting that I send my previous marking period grades in order for the Admissions Committe to review my application again. I did, and during the middle of April I got my acceptance.
Even after I was accepted, to be truthful I still really didn’t know if I wanted to go to URI. I hadn’t ever been to Rhode Island, and all I knew about it was that it’s the smallest state in the country and the winters there are freezing. I had narrowed it down to URI and one other school, which was my first acceptance.
On April 15, URI had its accepted students day, which I attended with my mother. I figured it couldn’t hurt to at least go look at it, as the schools I was accepted to weren’t exactly jumping out at me. The second I set foot on the campus, I made the decision that URI was where I would be spending my next four years. The campus was absolutely beautiful. The buildings were old and eye-catching. They reminded me of old castles. But inside, they’re fairly new and modern. I was given a tour of the entire campus, and I don’t think I stopped smiling the entire time. From the ginormous quad in the middle of campus, to the library, to the Memorial Union, there was no changing my mind. I had finally found the school for me. My mother kept giving me the “This is the school for you,” look. And I knew she was right. It was a fairly big school with roughly 15,000 undergrads. Greek life was a huge presence, which was important to me because I knew I wanted to join a sorority. And the best part? URI was just over 3 hours away from where I live in New Jersey. It the perfect fit that I didn’t even realize.
So, the day I got home from my trip to Accepted Students day, I put down my housing deposit, which signified that I had made my choice. It was the biggest feeling of relief I have ever experienced. Whenever I’m having a bad day at school or I feel like things just aren’t going my way, I try to remember that feeling I had when I put down my deposit, and I’m reminded of how happy I was that I had a promising future at URI.
Now, I’m definitely not an expert when it comes to giving advice, but here goes my best shot based solely on my application experience:
-Don’t apply to schools that you are absolutely positive you will not get into. It is a waste of time and money.-If you think you might have a shot at a school and you can really see yourself succeeding there, do yourself a favor and apply. If you don’t, it’ll bother you not knowing if you could have gotten in.
-Do your research. Know what you want out of a college experience and find schools that can give you what you want.
-It sounds cliché, but a pros and cons list really helps you visibly see the options you’re considering. Make one when you’ve narrowed it down to the last few schools.
-You cannot listen to everyone’s opinions. It’s okay to hear them out, but they are not you. Some people’s opinions can definitely be valuable, but you need to be strong enough to tune out everyone else’s comments. Everyone’s views of colleges are different. It is your decision, nobody else’s.
-Setting up interviews with admissions committee’s can be highly beneficial. There is a major difference between reading about someone on a few pieces of paper and actually physically seeing what they’re all about. Admission’s committee’s want to see you in person, but you have to take the initiative and make an effort so that they know you really want it. It could be the deciding factor as to whether you get accepted or not. Of course, you do not have to do this, I didn’t, but it could help.
-As far as URI goes, there are a lot of applicants. Since it’s a state school, they tend to take a hefty amount of students who are from Rhode Island. But, speaking from social experience, if you aren’t from Rhode Island, you’re probably from Jersey, Long Island, Connecticut, or Massachusetts. As long as you do relatively well on your SAT and you have at least A’s and B’s in high school, you have a fair chance of getting in. A few extracurricular activities and some great recommendation letters can’t hurt either.
-Lastly, if a school is not for you, it is simply not for you. Don’t try to convince yourself otherwise. If you feel like it isn’t right for you, move on and don’t get hung up on it. There is always another option. Believe it or not, I can assure you that there is a college for everyone.