It was 11 pm. I had just gotten home from my part time job at my local CVS Pharmacy when I checked my email. In my inbox sat one unread message from Northwestern University. The subject line read “Admissions Notice.” I was petrified. It was the first letter of admission I had received and it was from my top school. When I imagined this moment in my head (which I did over and over again from the moment I sent in my applications until that night I sat on my couch staring at this unread email and eating cold pizza), I imagined I would receive my Northwestern letter last. This would prepare me for what to expect and hopefully soften the blow of the inevitable rejection that I usually imagined.
After thirty minutes of sitting and staring at the screen, my cold pizza growing even colder, I opened the email. “Congratulations Christian…” was as far as I read before I started my happy dance and ran upstairs to tell my parents. After that, the notices rolled in. I received letters of acceptance to Boston College, Tulane University, and Virginia Tech and matching rejection letters from Columbia and Harvard.
The decision was easy, but not as easy to justify to myself. I had family at Boston College, Tulane is my father’s alma mater, and Virginia Tech is a public, in-state university that all my friends and brothers attended. I had no family in Chicago. In fact, I had no family west of the Appalachian Trail. But I knew where I wanted to go, even if it didn’t make as much sense. I’m probably not the best or most qualified person to give advice on the subject, but considering all your choices, stop and breathe.
Forget for a moment geography, family ties, and all the other extraneous details associated with this choice and think about which school excites you the most. When you would dream about college where would you be? Which offer letter were you most excited about? Which school’s Wikipedia page have you read all the way through? I’m guessing if you took a moment to ask yourself these questions, you’re going to find you that you already know which school is right for you.