You’ve finished the application process. Take a moment, breathe a sigh of relief.
Applying for colleges is rough. The process can be grueling and unpleasant. And then, after all that work, you receive a rejection? That hurts. Wait-listed? Still hurts, totally different way.
But you got accepted somewhere (I’m pretty sure), and that’s awesome. Now it’s time to make what can be a life-altering choice: which of the schools to which you’ve been accepted should you attend?
I had to face that decision once, so I know that it’s a doozy. I’d like to share with you some ideas I think are crucial in these, the waning stages of your college application process—these recommendations come solely from my experience, and are likely a tad subjective, but you can glean from them what you will.
- It will be okay. No, actually, it will be. You know how you hear that a lot and it just kinda goes in one ear and out the other? You should really take a second to let that sink in. It validates everything you go through. Because everything is going to be alright, it’s okay for things to be really tough occasionally, it’s okay to struggle and fail, because you’re going to survive. You are indomitable. This is excellent news.
- Though, if you want to be totally positive that it will be okay…pray. God needs to be a part of this decision—really, God needs to be part of every decision, but He really needs to be a part of this one. These are going to be (at least) four formative years. You will be a different person by the end of this decision, this decision that will have echoing consequences for the rest of your life. I don’t say this to freak you out, but I would like to impress upon you the magnitude of this choice: it’s important, and if you forget God in it, that will come back to bite you. There is no moment in life wherein asking God for guidance and love is a bad idea—this, particularly, is a good one.
- Have a game-plan. In one of the best confessions I’ve ever head, my father confessor told me “Benjamin, forgive my slang, but don’t screw around with this.” It was a pretty funny moment, but there’s a lesson in there. I just told you how important this decision is gonna be—so don’t screw around with this. Sit down (after you pray for guidance and love) and ask yourself: “What things are truly the most valuable to me?” A friend of mine was accepted to the best art school in the nation, but declined because the structure of the curriculum did not beget the aspects of art she honestly valued. “What resources must my University have?” I knew I needed a big school, near a city, with an expansive core curriculum—and I got one. “Will I be able to continue doing the things I love?” I get to run on Lake Michigan every morning and watch the sun rise; I get to attend an OCA church every week. Be honest with yourself and what you need. Considering how crucial an OCF is to the continuation and growth of your faith is a must.
- Don’t go it alone. I’m writing this post so that you don’t make this decision cold-turkey, having never heard another perspective before. Access people you trust—those who are still in college, recently graduated, and graduated ages ago. Bounce your ideas off of them and let them bounce off of you. Odds to evens, you aren’t the smartest person you know, so access some other people.
P.S. This doesn’t stop once you choose your university. It keeps going. Have trusted individuals, with which you can be vulnerable. A wise man once told me: when we’re at our most vulnerable, we’re at our strongest.
- Choose, then be at peace. You got it right—and even if you got it wrong, check out recommendation #1. Be at peace. God will be with you no matter where you go, and even if it’s awful for four years, you will emerge a stronger individual for it if your trust is in the right place.
- Get pumped. YOU’RE STARTING COLLEGE! It’s game time, baby. You get to start impacting the world, on a drastic scale, right now. Here we go.
Benjamin Solak is a undeclared first-year at the University of Chicago. He’s a fan of football, priests who dish out communion really fast, and brightly-colored pants. He invites you to check out his personal blog on Christian living and personal development at benjaminsolak.wordpress.com