Where you come from isn’t everything. It can potentially play a big role in where you go, and oftentimes it does. But it doesn’t have to, and college doesn’t dominate the rest of your life like it sometimes seems.
Deciding which college to go to can be overwhelming and hard. Some people are lucky, like me and only consider a few options. They can then decide where to go early on. Others are still waiting to hear back from schools and won’t know where they are going until right before they graduate.
Like I said, I’ve known since winter break exactly where I was going, but I have friends who have yet to hear back from several of their top choices. They’re very anxious to be at this point in the year and not know.
Regardless, it is thrown at us constantly that where you go to school is everything as if your future will just plummet if you don’t make the perfect decision. Junior year is the hardest, because nobody knows where they are going and the options can seem overwhelming.
At East, it is easy to get caught up in the idea that you have to go away to a fancy school to do anything important. There are enough kids here who are lucky enough to have those options. It is sometimes seen as settling or not pushing yourself to go to a local school or a community college.
You’re honestly lucky if you even get to consider schools all over the place, it is an awesome opportunity. One that not everyone is given. There were times last year when the college process first became real that I felt overwhelmed by the idea that I could only seem impressive if I went to some big named school like Stanford or something that prestigious.
It seemed like everybody was off seeing the country and doing these great things away from Kansas, so it gave me a little bit of anxiety to not completely leave the Midwest. I thought that was the only way to seem like you were going anywhere.
That is completely false. There are a million reasons that people go where they go, but they have just as much of a chance of becoming a millionaire as someone who goes to school 30 minutes from home. If you do some research, there are several nationally recognized programs just a short car ride away.
For example, the University of Kansas has 10 programs that are ranked in their top 10 for public universities nationally, Kansas State has an architecture program in the top three nationwide and The University of Missouri journalism school is consistently ranked in the top 10.
Personally, I started out wanting to go away. I had this huge list of schools based on pictures of the college towns I had found on Instagram and random things I knew about the states that they were in.
For example, University of North Carolina in Wilmington seemed so great because it was on the coast of North Carolina and I saw a picture of students scuba diving. Once I looked into the school, they had limited degree options, little greek life and no football team. If you asked me any information about the academics or programs I wouldn’t have had anything to say. It was more about the idea of the place I was going to.
Over the summer I kind of realized not only did I not want to be across the country starting completely new, but anything I would think about studying or wanted to do was available at a few different schools in the area. I kind of thought about the things that I’ve wanted. A school with a big study abroad program, plenty of options for degrees in case I change my mind and a school with high attendance at sporting events. Missouri had all of this, while some of the schools farther away that I thought were so perfect didn’t.
It is important for kids to realize all of this as they consider schools. It can feel like you are taking the easy road by going somewhere nearby. What helps a lot is organizing what you want out of a school, and realizing that it isn’t just a competition of who can go the farthest.
Anybody coming from anywhere in the United States can be successful. Yes, school decisions are stressful and can seem like the biggest decision we will ever make. At the end of the day, if you have the desire to make something of yourself, you will no matter where you start off. The finish is what matters.