I was obsessive about finding the perfect college for me. I cruised the Internet endlessly, reading list after list, searching for reviews and taking compatibility quizzes until my eyes glazed over. By the end I had a list of 9 schools that appealed to me, some a little more than others, but no definitive ranking of where I'd like to see myself in the fall.
This didn't seem to be a common situation, evidenced by the question I heard over and over again:
What's your first choice?
It stumped me for months. Finally, a few days before the start of my senior year, I told someone I was between Wellesley College and Barnard College, two all-girls schools in big cities. I still wasn't sure which one I liked better.
"Well," they responded, "which one's more selective?"
With a quick Google search to compare acceptance rates, Barnard became my top choice college.
Once I started to be more vocal about my snap decision, everyone came out of the woodwork to say they'd thought Barnard was right for me. Every other college fell to the wayside. My friends talked about visiting me in New York, my parents quoted statistics about the school to me constantly and my teachers beamed with pride -all before I'd submitted my application. I was grateful for the support, but I still found myself clicking around on Wellesley's website when I was bored, and with each passing day I realized that it may be a better home for me. I confessed to some of my friends that my feelings were changing, and they were great about it. I began to realize that I didn't necessarily have to want what everyone wanted for me.
I didn't sleep a wink the night before my Wellesley decision. When I got my acceptance letter, I was ecstatic. I celebrated with my family, I even made an overjoyed Facebook post. And a few days later, when my Barnard decision came out, I chatted with some of my Wellesley sisters who'd applied about whether or not we'd get in. I was nervous, but not nearly as much as I'd been earlier that week. Regardless of what my Barnard letter said, I had a family waiting with open arms at Wellesley.
I got rejected on the drive home from dinner with my boyfriend. Even though I no longer preferred Barnard, a rejection always hurts. I cried, a lot. But after the initial shock wore off and I dried my tears, he gave me a hug and said, "So....now you're going to Wellesley!" The pit in my stomach disappeared. Later that night, I excitedly fired off emails to some of my favorite teachers, telling them I'd be in Boston in the fall.
What would have once been the biggest devastation in my life was now a blessing in disguise. It was easy for me to commit to the school I'd slowly been falling for for months. Even though some people in my life seemed disappointed that I'd fallen short of the school that looked better on paper, I had made it into the school that felt right to me, and that was all that mattered. I couldn't possibly be any happier with my college.
Lead image credit: Wikimedia Commons