Leah Gans | La Jolla Country Day Senior
The weirdest feeling is when it comes time to start something that you have been preparing for your entire life. College applications always felt like these distant things that were coming, but for some reason would never actually arrive. I’ve spent years being told to participate in extracurricular activities and community service, get good grades, take hard classes, and study for the SATs: all in the hope of getting into a good college (or one I would want to attend). The thing I wasn’t prepared for was how to decide where I want to go, what I want to do, and how to sell myself in 500 words or less! When choosing where to apply, most counselors will prompt their students to make a list of factors that are important to them, the “must-haves” for their dream school. I have noticed that most people seem to have some idea of whether they want a big or small school, whether sports teams and school spirit are important, what type of campus they want, and where they want it to be. I, however, have no idea: I feel like I missed some meeting where everyone was told where he or she belongs. This prompted me to ask students what they’re look for, and how they knew what they wanted. What I realized is that, deep down, no one at age 18 is certain what is best for them or where they belong, but they have enough confidence and courage to trust their instincts, and feel secure with the idea that everything happens for a reason and they will (hopefully) end up where they belong.
When prompted with the question where do you want to go and how do you know this place is right for you, LJCD senior Uma shared, “I’ve decided that I want to go to college in London. One night I was sitting in a Cafe downtown and it just all came to me. I could just picture myself there, walking down the streets in a sweater, leggings and booties. I’m not sure about which college yet, but just a university in London.” On the other hand, TPHS senior Liz explained, “I am going with my instincts and what I know. My dream school is Louisiana State University. I know I want a big state school with school spirit, good sports teams, lots of people, and large classes. I’ve just always thought that’s what I wanted. Sometimes I bounce around the idea of going to an art school, but I would rather go to a large university, study something broader now, and narrow my focus later when I am sure of what I want to do.” CCA senior Sam answered, “I really want to stay on the West Coast and get recruited for rowing! I’ve always loved California and feel so comfortable here. No matter the size of the university, I think the West is where I belong. I’m giving a few schools on the East Coast a chance, but most likely the West Coast is where I’ll end up!”
Personally, I struggle with what I want. I have days when I want to goto a big state school with a top football team, and days when I want to go to a small urban school with the city as my campus. (I guess everyone second guesses themselves sometimes.) I plan to apply to a diverse set of campuses and let fate decide where I should end up. I think once I know where I am accepted, the decision will become clear (at least I hope!). If a particular school doesn’t want me, then it’s not meant to be. The important thing is not to narrow yourself to a vision of the “perfect school,” because there is more then one school for everyone. College is what you make of it, how involved you get, and deciding to be happy there.
To all of my fellow Class of 2016 seniors, good luck! To quote one of my favorite songs, “Everybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen” by Mary Schmich, “Don’t worry about the future, or worry, but know that worrying is about as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum.”