Because I knew I wanted to reinvent myself in these next four years, making sure I was attending the right college was crucial to me. While I weighed out the pros and cons of both a large and a small university, I finally decided to attend a very large school, which has such a large student body of over 97,000 students: Penn State. My friends and family were surprised that I did not end up choosing to attend a much smaller school such as St. Joseph’s, Villanova or Franklin and Marshall, all averaging between 2,000 and 10,000 students, all of which I was considering. When asked why, I told them what I felt: despite my introverted personality, there were many opportunities that I could not pass up and that I knew I could make a change in myself and be able make a name for myself even with a plethora of students all striving to succeed.
When I started my preliminary college search, it consisted exclusively of schools that had a small campus and had under 10,000 students. I couldn’t even fathom going to a large school, so I completely disregarded it during my search until the summer after junior year when I went up to Penn State for a visit. I absolutely loved it and I got a vibe that I did not get at any other university I have visited prior. Immediately, I was immersed in a place that I knew I could see myself at. The pros were just jumping out at me. From the wide selection of majors, to the amount of clubs and extracurriculars, to the student community. At that moment in time, the cons that certain people were concerned about with a large school, such as the tremendous class sizes, lack of individualized attention and getting lost in the crowd, did not phase me in the least. As the saying goes, “Why fit in if you were born to stand out?”
Since going on my very first tour at a large university, I took away many tidbits that were extremely helpful from my tour guides. One made a point that it is certainly not impossible to make a big school small. As long as you find a friend group, introduce yourself to your professors, go after research and internship opportunities and have various leadership positions, it is easy enough to find what you are passionate about and focus on that rather than getting involved in everything that may come your way, therefore being overwhelmed by everything that a large university can offer.
I’m going to use all of the opportunities that such a large school has to offer me to break out of my shell and become a more confident person. I must admit, as my high school career went on, I did become more confident, but in different ways than constantly speaking my mind, like I’ve witnessed others do. I merely became very involved in various clubs and had many leadership positions, and I certainly plan to do the same in college to build up a great resume.
Although I went against the grain of most people with an introverted personality, I am glad I broke the mold and decided to go outside of my comfort zone.
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