As my mom’s Suburban, packed full of ruffled Lays and hotdogs, approaches Lot 94 behind Memorial Stadium, I glance up at the clock:
11:17 a.m. Still three hours to go, but I’m not worried about keeping myself busy until game time. Some of my earliest memories are walking to The Union to escape the heat, or rolling down The Hill so fast that I can hardly walk afterwards. Whatever it was, I’ve always found something to keep myself occupied until kickoff.
This is how I spent my Saturdays during college football season for as long as I can remember. This is Lawrence, the place that I’ll one day call my college town.
When senior year of high school approaches, most students start to dread the inevitable question that will be asked all year: “Where are you going to college?” Luckily for me, I have known the answer to this question my whole life. I have always been prepared to tell anyone who asks that I am going to attend the University of Kansas, but I was never prepared for the negative comments and unenthusiastic reactions I would get once I officially enrolled at KU last July.
I disregard meaningless chatter most of the time, but it always upsets me when I hear KU talked about in a cynical way. Over the course of the school year, I’ve heard things like, “I guess I’ll have to go to KU if I don’t get a good ACT score,” “It will be like East all over again” and “Don’t settle for KU.”
To each their own, but I can’t help but feel dejected and embarrassed when I hear comments like this, even if they’re not said directly to me. I want to scream at these people, and list a million reasons to love the home of the Jayhawks, a million reasons why I am not simply “settling.”
I am going to KU because of the utter excitement and chills that encompass my whole body while watching the introduction video at a basketball game. I am going to KU because it amazes me that I can feel so hungry, and then instantly full again after eating a slice of Wheel Pizza. I am going to KU because of all the memories I cherish from being a young KU fan.
Moments like wearing the same KU cheerleading uniform for a week straight when it was given to me on Christmas 2004, watching each of my cousins graduate from this school and hanging around Memorial Stadium until 10 p.m. to get the autographs of every single player on the 2008 Orange Bowl team on my shoes (I still have them if you want proof).
But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that Lawrence is not only a great second home and sports town, but a place that offers the academic and career opportunities I need. Opportunities like their incredible journalism school, which I’ve learned to love through my high school journalism program.
These opportunities are accessible with the non-competitive 21 ACT score and a 3.25 GPA. They are not far fetched, but why should that matter? College isn’t about how hard the entry requirements are – it’s about what you get out of being at the school. In the book “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell, he points out that high-ranking schools like Harvard aren’t better than other schools, the students there simply have higher test scores. As long as you learn in school and land the career you strive for, where you go doesn’t matter.
I believe in going to a school where you can envision yourself living for four years. I looked into other schools for a while, but I kept finding reasons why those were not for me. I couldn’t envision myself living anywhere else but Corbin Residence Hall my freshman year. I couldn’t envision myself studying anywhere other than the William Allen White School of Journalism, and I definitely couldn’t envision wearing any other colors besides Crimson and Blue.