The raw thrill I felt when I received my first college acceptance is something I remember perfectly. I was sitting in my third class of the day in my senior year of high school, and the early winter season had everyone talking about which universities they’d heard from. Slumped in my seat, I was absolutely discouraged because I had applied to five universities (in and out of my home state) that past autumn and had heard from none of them. So, I decided to distract myself from those thoughts by opening my laptop, to which I was immediately met with an email…from my top college. The subject line was, “Congratulations! You’re a Hawkeye!”
Everything after third period consisted of me practically smiling my face off and holding back the urge to announce to everyone with ears that the University of Iowa, the best creative writing college in the country, had accepted me. However, before I blasted my peers with the news, I typed away on my phone to my parents. The past months of heavy pressure on finishing and submitting applications evaporated completely, and the whole mess of it all seemed to be not only over, but thoroughly worth it. A few weeks later I accepted admission and this past August I became a full-time student at UI.
Of course, I’m fortunate to even have an education and actually attend a good college, but I’m studying at a place I want to be, for a subject I love with all of my soul and all of my mind. Not only did I stay dedicated and pursue my dreams, but Mom and Dad supported me to do just that.
My parents told me that my college was my choice, and that they would do whatever they could to get me to where I could be successful, and most importantly, happy with what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be.
Part of this was because I had worked hard and with passion in high school and I was consistent in what I wanted to do with myself once I graduated. English and creative writing have been the loves of my life since even before high school, and I persistently strove to be involved, improve, and grow with my talents. High school had given me the opportunity to prove myself – to prove that I deserved to go to the college of my choice where I could continue my love for writing. My parents recognized this.
Now, I want to expand on the word opportunity. I am a very lucky person when it comes to the opportunities of American education. Here are the facts: I was born into an upper middleclass family, only attended private, Catholic schools, and had always been given the resources and chances to succeed. My parents could not only afford to send me to an out-of-state university, but also supported their daughter in studying a field in the liberal arts or humanities (which everyone puts down as unpractical in the world of financial stability, and rare for what are considered actual achievements in the workplace). From what I’ve seen and been told by my friends and peers, this is not a common thing.
For so many young students, their college destination is not their choice. Why?
Well, before I get to that, please know that I understand the several elements that go into choosing and attending a university; money, quality, responsibility, and, here’s that word again: opportunity. However, let me say this: I think it’s extremely depriving of any individual if they, themselves cannot have a say in where/what they want to study. This is what I want to emphasize: students deserve to pursue what they want, where they want. If they can, they should. If they want to but can’t for valid reasons, support should be given to make that happen.
Students choosing colleges: this is your time.
As much as you love and respect your family, teachers, and peers, I support you in standing for what you want to spend this part of your life doing. This does not mean in any way to disrespect or disregard your parents or your friends who disagree on what you want; but you are at a point in your life where you must learn how to defend yourself and your goals as an adult. Also, be able to make reasonable and well-thought decisions, goals, and maybe even compromises. As much as I personally hate the thought of people not being able to do what they feel called to do for their career, education, etc; there are two truths to be known in this. One, you will not always get what you want. Two, you cannot always rely on the approval or happiness of others to then get approval or happiness with yourself and your life. Work for yourself! This is not your parent’s college experience, this is not your best friend’s college experience, this is not your teacher’s college experience, this is YOURS.
So, when all of those applications have been sent and you have a list of universities that want you, you have to decide what you, yourself want.
There are going to be people who are not always going to back you up one hundred percent on your dreams and aspirations, and those people may very well be close to you. As a freshman in college who is blessed to have people in my life who support me, what I want, and what I’m doing now; all I want to tell you is that even though you may be unsure of where you’ll go or what you’ll do, you deserve to go somewhere that you choose as being the best for you. After all, it’s your college and no one else’s. Find somewhere and do something that will sincerely bring you success in happiness and happiness in success. Happiness is in fact a choice- it’s your choice.
Featured image source: envisionplanet.com
Becca is a 19-year-old Austinite who studies English at the University of Iowa.