Welcome to one of the weirdest and most confusing two years of your life! As a junior, you're just starting to practice for that dreaded SAT, you're meeting with your counselor, but most importantly, you're visiting colleges.
The college search for me was easy. I knew what I wanted and where I wanted to be. Rochester was my home the first time I stepped foot on the campus, but it hasn't been that easy for you. You change your mind a lot, so it's hard to find a place that will cater to your needs, unfortunately. You're always all over the place, and that's not a bad thing, but it makes the decision about schools to apply to a lot harder.
We've traveled the country for you, literally. We've been to California and you fell in love with a place that is SO selective: UCLA. The thing is, UC schools are having trouble financially, and are taking a bigger group of international students because they pay more to attend. That means it's harder for you to get in. But, you probably already knew that, as you have schools like Marist on your list as well.
You didn't get into the search until mom forced you into it, either. For me, I was all about it; I looked up colleges my freshman year of high school and picked my schools by the time I was starting my Junior year. You, on the other hand, just started the search, due to mom's constant asking. The thing is, it's a lot of work. And it takes a lot out of you, and I know it's hard. But you just have to keep pushing through, because one of these days you're going to visit a college and realize it is your new home.
Rochester did something to me when I first visited it like no other school did. That's something that is so hard to find, and I know you will, at some point, because you have that ability, because you're a great student who will find her next home...you will. When I stepped on campus for the first time, there was something about the spirit on campus that took over. Our high school was big on spirit, so having that aspect was so important, and now look at me, a member of Blue Crew, the school spirit group on campus. Crew was a big aspect for me too, and being a DIII athlete at Rochester has been really good for me. Joining a sorority wasn't on my list but I'm in one now and I couldn't ask for a better group of people to be around. Writing for the campus newspaper has led me to keep loving my English Major. It's all about finding what makes you want a place to be your home.
Obviously you have different criteria, and I don't blame you, you're not me. And what you're interested in is the complete opposite, and what you want is found at so many other schools meaning you have so many options. But I promise, beyond all of it, you will get through it. It's hard, but visiting a few colleges here and there, asking questions, talking to students...it all pays off. You're on the right track you just have a lot of obstacles in the way, like any other Junior just now starting the process. But if I remember correctly, you did hurdles once, so jumping over these will be no difficulty.
I know mom is pushing you, but so is the world. We are pressured to find our place so quick, and even then, some students don't really want to be where they end up (one of my friends dropped out after his first semester of college), so it's okay to stress and it's okay to be confused. But, I promise you, I will be here for you every step of the way. You will get through this, and you will find your new home, I promise. It's there, you just have to work through it.