As application season finally comes to a close, the inevitable question approaches: where do you want to go?
After months of essays, questions, paper work, SATs, ACTs, letters of recommendation and more, the idea of actually getting to choose where to spend the next four years of my life not only feels surreal, but impossible.
At times, the college search seems like the race to nowhere. The additional hours of writing, editing and scrutinizing outside of homework make the fall seem endless.
But eventually, it ends.
And when it does, we’re all left wondering where we’re going to go. For most of my friends, this means staying in California. Between applications to UCs and CSUs, the where isn’t going to change too much.
Yes, California is a big state. But they at least know they’ll be somewhere relatively familiar. Home won’t be too far away.
As a person who didn’t apply for any UCs or CSUs and with all of my top schools being located on the East Coast, I know that I won’t be near any of my childhood or high school friends.
I’ll be thousands of miles away from my family. If something goes wrong, I’m on my own (at least until my parents can book a flight). And I couldn’t be happier.
I love California and I love my family, but this is the time for me to branch out. This is the only time in my life where I’ll be able to completely pack up my things and move with no loose ends to tie up.
For me, college seems like the perfect excuse to explore a completely different side of the country.
I’ve never experienced a snowy winter. Public transportation has always been irrelevant for me. The heaviest winter coat I’ve ever had was a light windbreaker that kept me dry from some light showers. The coldest temperature I’ve ever known was barely sub thirty degrees Fahrenheit.
All of that is about to change.
I’m not saying the East Coast is for everyone, or that moving halfway across the country is how to do your college experience “right.” That’s the infuriating yet liberating thing about higher education– there’s no correct way to do it.
But I implore you, branch out. Take a risk.
If moving to Southern California is a risk for you, do it. If moving to Oregon is a risk, do it. If it takes settling down in Minnesota, for the love of God, do it.
I’m not ignorant of the fact that college is incredibly expensive. Housing and book costs alone at certain universities can be daunting, to say the least. But take advantage of every opportunity you have.
Seek out the plethora of scholarship opportunities and fill out your FAFSA on time. College isn’t cheap, but there are a lot of resources that can make it doable.
I know that at the end of my four years, I don’t want a storm of regrets and “what if”s clouding my conscience. I’m aware that my confidence regarding this decision is ignorant at best and pompous at worst.
I’m cognizant of the fact that the second I receive my high school diploma, the fear of leaving everything that feels safe and comfortable will set in and will feel overwhelming.
And I can’t wait.