“So where are you going to college?”
As a rather competitive student attending an extremely competitive “Asian” high school school (as we students happened to call it), I despised this question and the reaction it evoked from the curious classmate or friend when I answered. I hadn’t yet come to terms with the fact that I would be attending a community college after graduation so every mention of the dreaded word “college” was salt on an open wound.
Truth to be told, I was a lot more hesitant and apathetic toward the college application process than the vast majority of students at my school. My older sister, who had been admitted to several public and private schools, had also chosen to attend a CC due to my parents’ financial difficulties and I expected nothing much different. One by one, I submitted my applications with a shaking hand, distantly hoping somehow, just somehow, the outcome would prove to be much different than what was given to my sister.
Finally, March Madness came knocking at the door. I could sense the waves of tension dancing through the hallways, almost as if they were some sort of foreshadowing of a disastrous result. Seniors walked around campus like zombies, constantly refreshing the browser on their phones. Oh, how I envied them. I resented my friends who were able to submit a Statement of Intent to Register (SIR), given that they were offered admission to any school on their “it” list.
I gradually shut myself off to the countless celebrations and pity parties and zeroed in on my plans for the upcoming year. The harvest hadn’t gone so well for me — I was left with very few choices, none of which were open options. So I shrugged, got back up on my feet and registered myself at the local community college. I visited the campus, applied and was admitted into the Honors Program. I was pretty satisfied with where I was.
And so there I was, a prospective community college student amongst the sea of high-achieving kids. Soon, the excitement of acceptances and commitments died down and the word “college” was slowly erased from my thoughts. Until decisions for my waitlists flew into my inbox.
I opened the emails expecting very little. But lo and behold, the first message, which started with a glaring “Congratulations!” was from a reach school I had set my hopes on earlier in my college search. I could hardly contain my excitement as I skimmed through the letter and my financial award. I was college bound!
But serious contemplating in bed that night shed light on the sticky situation I was in. Although getting into the reach school was almost a dream come true, especially because it was pretty close to home, community college was a much smarter option seen from all angles. It would save my parents thousands and thousands of dollars and the stress of driving me back and forth to school every day. It would allow me an easier transfer route to the institution I truly wanted to attend.
Besides, I thought, the school I was taken off the waitlist for was not even known for my major. Why attend a school in which the area of study I am interested isn’t strong? It sounds silly, I know, but for some reason or another I wanted to be at a university that boasts its journalism program. The very next morning, I reluctantly declined the offer.
The next few weeks were especially difficult for me, as most of my friends and classmates were bound for acclaimed public and private universities all over the country. For the sake of my sanity, I immersed myself in my college community. I dealt with the hassles of housekeeping and signed up for a few summer classes. Although my college community was a huge culture shock for me, considering that I was now part of a vast minority, unlike in high school, I have come to love and appreciate the college I’ll be attending this fall. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the feeling of being the only Asian in Honors English, but hey, it’s the start of something new.
Lead Image Credit: Wikimedia