From the time we were exposed to post-secondary options up until senior year of high school, tons of us had "dream schools." Whether our aspirations to attend these colleges and universities spurred from how they excelled academically to sports reputations, nothing could stop us from doing everything we had to do to get accepted. We couldn't wait to go to our ideal college and live up the dream!
However, for me, this ended up changing significantly.
When I first set foot in the AUC (Atlanta University Center) for a dance program I was invited to, I immediately fell in love with Spelman College, a prestigious women's college in Atlanta, GA. The vibe I felt and atmosphere I was in was enough to make anyone feel as though it was a great place to be. Once I seriously began my college search, Spelman was top on the list. I knew I wanted to attend a close-knit, liberal arts school that wasn't too far from home, that would help strengthen me as an African-American woman, and equip me for my career academically as well as with mentors and permanent support. I binge-watched "A Different World," a spin-off of "The Cosby Show" that depicted student life at a fictional historically black college/university (HBCU), and that contributed to me falling in love with the idea of attending a school that was designed specifically for me (an African-American woman).
Spelman has an excellent reputation of breeding leaders and phenomenal women. No one could talk me out of attending in August of 2016.
Just in case, I applied to four other schools with two out of the total five being Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs). My GPA and junior year test scores put me in the bracket to be accepted into all of these schools so I began to relax a little. I was so certain that I was attending Spelman College on the Gates Millennium Scholarship because I was a hard worker, had the financial need, wrote great essays, and knew the AUC was where I belonged. As anticipated, I received my powder blue envelope. Seeing the other #Spelman20 girls' reactions to their acceptance letters made me wonder why mine wasn't as exciting as theirs. Something inside of me wasn't right.
"Why am I not as thrilled as I should be?"
After serious thought and consideration, I concluded maybe Spelman isn't for me. It didn't have my desired major, journalism, and I did not want to settle for majoring in English or studying at Clark Atlanta. I wasn't satisfied with the housing, I wanted diversity, and specific clubs that weren't available. I could have very well created these organizations, my own major, and overlooked housing; However, I found myself being in love with the African-American aesthetics promoted academically and socially rather than the school itself. Once I got past that, they had nothing to offer me, personally. Now don't get me wrong, I still fully advocate for HBCUs and I wholly believe they produce well-rounded, world-changing leaders. As for myself and my career, I found a school that would be an all-around better investment for my life.
Before my senior year, I had never heard of Mercer University. After I got accepted while simultaneously receiving a scholarship, I definitely began to reconsider my options. Mercer University is private, liberal learning university in Macon, GA. Mercer is a PWI, yet still diverse and has its own center for collaborative journalism. It's a tightly-knit university and has a student to faculty ratio of 13:1. I increasingly became attracted to much of what they had to offer. Once I visited, I had the "this is where I belong" feeling.
So it all boils down to this....
I had a plan and a dream. I became so comfortable and close-minded for the wrong reason. After ignoring all of the reasons listed above, I still wanted to attend a school just because it was my goal for so long.
1. Stay open-minded. Doing so allows exposure to different things that could benefit you. You learn, grow, and are open to a plethora of opportunities. You obtain wisdom and discover things about yourself that you may have not known. You hear philosophies, advice, suggestions, and statements that challenge you to think beyond what you thought was possible. Most importantly, you aren't confined. You are in control in what you believe and want to do.
2. Stay humble. Understand that even though you're approaching or reaching the adult stages, you don't know everything. You don't know exactly how your life is going to go no matter how much you've planned. You have no reason to believe you are better than anyone else. It's great to be confident, however, don't knock others dreams, goals, and aspirations just to make yourself feel better.
3. Get used to change. Something I'm still learning is not to plan my life. No matter how much luck I have, how hard I have worked, how much I believe I deserve something, or how much good I have done, something will always happen that was not planned for. This is a part of life. It makes you stronger to be open and able to deal with whatever is thrown your way versus giving up at the first boulder in the road. Sometimes there are things you need to learn and character that needs to be built in preparation for the next level. Trust the process, it happens to everyone.
Lead Image Credit: Wayne Taylor // Flickr Creative Commons
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