Making a college decision is often one of the most daunting tasks a high school senior faces. While weighing the options of all the different colleges including cost, location, sports, clubs, Greek life, dorms, professors, one consideration above all, are the schools' noteworthiness or seemingly "Big Name" colleges.
I found myself in the same situation weighing the pros and cons of all eight schools I had applied and gotten in to. I found myself torn between two schools: the University of North Georgia, a medium size, quaint school located in the mountains of northern Georgia, and the University of Georgia, the large, selective, with a prestigious SEC football team. I figuratively stood in the middle of the road with UGA's arches towering over me, while I stood back, looking off into the distance at the North Georgia mountains.
I thought back on the feelings I felt when I toured each school. I was overwhelmed by the city feel of Athens where the University of Georgia is located. I caught myself thinking there would be no way that I would be able to walk the entire campus from class to class and class to dorm without finding myself lost. I was even considering changing my major just to go there because I really wanted to major in nursing and UGA did not offer a nursing program. I thought of how drastic that would be, but everyone I know who goes there and went there was so successful and had such a wonderful time there I though that I would HAVE to as well. I felt that there would be no way that I could find my place in such a big university and I would be one of the people who goes to college simply to get a degree. But I wanted more than that. I was really mad at myself for feeling this way. My parents recognized immediately how reputable of an in-state school this was and I could feel them beaming as we toured Athens. I thought about how disappointed they would be if I ended up choosing another school. They have helped me so much along the way to get to this point and I would not want to let them down now. I found myself asking lots of questions like, am I going to let my parents down? How did I not feel that I belong when all of my friends are so happy here? I thought that it was a feeling that you had to teach yourself. So I plastered my walls with UGA posters, decor, bulldogs, red and black. But as weeks went by I still felt nothing.
All along I had kept the charming mountain-town of Dahlonega, where the University of North Georgia was located in the back of my mind. When I toured the University of North Georgia, as cliche as it might sound, it felt like home. Every staff member and student treated me as if I belonged there. I was informed that I would be the first class living in a brand new residence hall, that was actually still being built when I toured there. I can recall my tour on a Friday afternoon and the dining hall was serving chicken tenders and fries, little did I know that every Friday was "chicken tender Friday", which happened to be one of my favorite foods. I was always wanting to go explore Dahlonega on the weekends with my friends and always found myself having such a wonderful time there. They were also one of the best nursing schools in the state of Georgia and this only added to my excitement.
What helped make my decision most was a long talk I had with my parents. I mentioned my concerns with each campus, and although they did confess to liking Athens better, they both admitted that they could not see me on UGA's campus and they felt that I would be better off at Dahlonega. They also made sure I knew that ultimately it was my decision to make, although I did feel that they should have some say in it because they are helping me to pay for it. My dad then said something that has stuck with me all this time. He said that although they are aiding me in my college decision, both him and my mom would rather have me at a university that I feel most comfortable in, because in the long run, if I enjoy my school I will get out of it what I put into it. And by going to a "Big Name" school that I feel no connection too, I will get nothing out of.
It is a hard decision to make for every student. But college is all about finding yourself. Not just continuing the family legacy of 10 plus years of attending the same college, sticking it out for four years just because of the great football games or because all your friends are going there too. It's about you. In the long run, it is your decision. It's the next four years of your life, and it's your future, so take pride in your school and the decision to attend it.
Lead Image Credit: Zach J Beavers via Wikimedia Commons