I cried enough tears to fix California’s drought on the day that I received my admission from American University. After a multitude of rejection letters, the mail basket resembled a sad pile of opened envelopes more than anything else. With dozens of “we regret to inform you’s” rattling in my brain, I was sure that American University would follow suit.
When I read my letter of acceptance, my eyes darted across the page until they landed on the words “conditional” and “summer program.” After looking into the condition of my acceptance, I learned that I would be attending a seven-week bridge program over the summer to help me with three things:
1. Familiarize myself with the campus
2. Take two college classes, one for credit and one to prepare me for college seminars in the fall
3. Network with students, professors and local organizations
The program would start in late June and conclude in early August. At first, I was suspicious as to why I had been selected to take classes over the summer. Was it because my SAT scores weren’t stellar enough? Had I barely made the cut? Was it because I was black?
Now that I am on campus and have been living in the dorms for a little over three weeks, I can confidently say that the reasons for my selection were not negative aspects. My university chose me in particular because I possessed good writing skills, lived across the country and could therefore benefit the most from a bridge program and ultimately because the university felt that this would be the best way to transition me from high school to college.
Two weeks into the program, I became incredibly homesick. I didn’t think that being 2,800 miles away from home would affect me to the extent it did, but I found myself crying into my itchy dorm pillowcase and wondering if I would ever feel situated. There’s something strange about the transition from high school to college because you feel torn in so many opposing directions. Was I the Shelby from San Diego, or was I the Shelby who now lived in big city Washington, D.C.? Was college going to change me completely, or would it help me grow into the person I always wanted to be?
Had I not attended the bridge program, two things would have happened:
1. I wouldn’t have been accepted to the university. (It was conditional, remember?)
2. I wouldn’t have discovered how to take care of myself until the fall.
Over this past summer, I’ve learned how to balance work with personal care. I’ve discovered that I can’t be around a lot of people in small spaces for an extended period of time. I’ve figured out who I can talk to, whether they are people at home or on campus, when I’m feeling lonely. I’ve learned how to make a dorm room into a comfortable living space that I look forward to returning to after a long day of classes and seminars. I’ve become creative in my methods of cooking ramen noodles. Finally, I’ve learned that there is a Container Store right down the street from my university. I will never be without tupperware.
But in all seriousness, the bridge program prepared me in ways I hadn’t imagined.
I am incredibly grateful for my time spent at the bridge program, as it has exposed me to a big chunk of what college life will be like. I know the best places to buy food, study and shop. While I had trouble staying awake during the numerous seminars, I now know all the resources that my school has to offer. I have a better understanding of what American University is and I am thankful that the admissions office selected me.
Lead Image Credit: GSCDN.org