College/university: It's a major part of every student's life, whether they go or not, and if they go, the factors involved in their choice of colleges and universities are huge. HUGE.
When I was in high school, I was a starry-eyed believer in the dream college, which wasn't much, but was much different from where I actually ended up going. My dream college, my sights not set on Duke, Harvard, or Yale, was Baylor University in Waco, Texas, about an hour from where we actually live. I sent off my (incomplete, as I was still a high school student) transcripts, took my SATs, and did all the things a graduating high school student is expected to do.
Knowing that I was going for more than a "Community College," I involved myself in a number of extracurricular activities- enough that I had to "narrow the list" to which ones I wanted included in the yearbook & in the Who's Who Among American High School Students Edition the year I graduated. Colorguard, UIL, and Choir were my favorites, but there was also National Honor Society, Student Council, a brief stint on the Debate Team, all four years in the Who's Who records, class Salutatorian, and if you want to be specific, within UIL, I competed on the Spelling and Social Studies Team individually every meet, as well as a number of times on the Number Sense team, Math Team, Creative Writing team, once on the headline writing team, several times with each of the science teams in biology and chemistry (my physics skills were weak)...in other words, I was the top notch high school student.
I primed my transcript (106 grade point average, not too shabby!), and added the extracurriculars, certain that I'd be ready for the college of my dreams.
Then reality hit, and I got the paper that showed the tuition bill for a semester at Baylor University, as well as my awarded scholarship. I was only 1/4 paid for, and I was not able to commute an hour each way every day (even though in the end, that's what I essentially ended up doing).
My parents pushed for me to find something closer and less expensive, and so I (very apprehensively and not quite willingly) did. As the acceptance letter and scholarship to Baylor sat beckoning on my dresser, I applied to the University of Texas at Arlington, sent my transcript, scores, and whatever other desired materials.
March 11, 2005, due to the "10% rule" (and maybe the whole doing well in high school thing), I was accepted as a freshman into the University of Texas at Arlington. Quickie about the 10% rule- if you are in the top 10% of your graduating class at a public high school in Texas, you are automatically granted admission to the public college or university of your choice granted there is room in their freshman class (cases like UT Austin call for further inspection, as their freshman class often is far too large to accommodate all the 10% graduates)
Needless to say, although the tuition was much more affordable, and I still had a scholarship, this was not my school of choice, and I was not happy. In addition, I wasn't able to participate in any activities- they all cost money. So here I was a college freshman, going to class for a few hours a day, and going straight to work. Not quite a way to adapt to college.
Four (or six) years later...I'm kind of glad I "chose" UTA. They have a really good school of social work...who knows what path I would have taken elsewhere? I did gradually accommodate myself to campus, although I never really found myself "fitting" on campus. It eventually became a place where I felt comfortable, and I'm kind of sad that I'm not there this semester, my first semester after graduation.
No, UTA wasn't my first choice, and it wouldn't have even been a choice had my parents not wanted me to go to a college "close to home" that was "affordable"...but nevertheless, I ended up going there, and you know what? I'm happy I did. I'd never take it back. The professors, the few people I did connect with, even though we lost contact, the experiences I had, they all had an impact on me. It wasn't my first choice, but it was a very good choice, indeed.
This weeks topic: College
or I chose the college I did.....