I’ve always compared the college search process to dating.
It takes many-a-date to find The One. Some suitors are attractive at face-value: universities with meticulously trimmed green spaces, towering brick buildings and a highly selective acceptance rate. Others are matches you could be happy living with, but are no Bradley Coopers; so-called “safeties.”
We know that third-party viewers will judge our decision regardless of whether it is ultimately a reach or a settle. Couples walk by on the streets and we think “How could she have ended up with him?” The ultimate goal in finding the school we will be married to forever (or at least for four years of our lives) is to choose a college we will be content with to the point where criticism no longer matters.
Me? I’m marrying my best friend.
This happens a lot to couples who begin as acquaintances. It’s not always love at first sight, but there is an element of adoration and comfort you can’t quite identify yet. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) was always a fallback choice; a college I couldn’t see myself with until I explored the idea of real commitment. I foolishly wanted a tall-dark-and-handsome school labeled with prestige that my peers would eye with envy. After all of my hard work in Honors and International Baccalaureate courses and a vast array of extracurriculars, didn’t I deserve a school that was a perfect 10 by everyone else’s standards? I saw myself thriving in a smaller, private school environment rather than at a state school with 25,000 students.
But what can I say? The heart wants what it wants.
UNL had already popped the question by the time I arrived on its campus on a crisp fall morning. I had received a red envelope with an acceptance letter paired with an impressive scholarship amount (No, I am not marrying for money). I knew the reputation of the journalism and honors colleges at Nebraska, both programs I hoped to be a part of if I decided to enroll. Logically, UNL should’ve been number one on my short list, but I couldn’t begin a relationship without a first date, so I had to visit the campus.
UNL flirted with me by showing me the possibile life I could lead in Lincoln. Instead of finding a school surrounded by corn stalks, I was surprised by the college-town-cool vibe downtown had. Every student and faculty member I met genuinely wanted me to come to the school that they found so much pride in, and I found myself wanting to wear Husker red alongside them. I hadn’t felt that sense of belonging on any of my other visits. UNL offered me incredible opportunities that complemented my ‘learn-by-doing’ style that I hadn’t found anywhere else. The journalism faculty and students truly have a passion for people and storytelling on a global scale, and knowing that I share these loves, I found that we hit it off just fine.
It was then that UNL made the natural progression from best bud to soul mate.
Am I frustrated that I didn’t visit UNL first? Not at all. Like with any relationship, timing is everything. I had to examine my chemistry with other schools before I could effectively choose which one was right for me. Some might be surprised by my early decision and continue to question how I fell in love with my safety school, but after discovering where I was truly going to be happy I knew I didn’t want to apply anywhere else.
Although the idea that I’ve chosen where I’ll be spending the next four years of my life is still unbelievable to me, I know that this future relationship is the real deal. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and I will be very happy together.
Save the date: Fall 2014.