Making my college decision


Me visiting one of my potential colleges in New York.

Molly Bryant

The college decision deadline of May 1 is probably one of the most anticipated dates among the numerous deadlines of a high school senior. It even has a name: the National College Decision Day. On this day, students must make a deposit toward the college of their choice. As a high school senior myself, I have experienced the hardships and excitement that come with the college process and would like to offer a bit of advice based on the long journey that led to my decision.

As a very uncertain person, I applied to 12 different colleges, hoping to find the right fit. Neither of my parents went to college, making me a first-generation college student. This meant I had absolutely no idea about this process and what it would entail. I was under the impression that applying to as many schools as possible was a good idea, but it proved to be much harder for me, as I had so many to choose from. I was so scared that I wouldn’t get into college at all and that I would fail my family, who provided so many resources for me. Annie Wright luckily provided me with many resources such as college fairs, information sessions, and our very own college counselor.

When starting my journey, I only knew that I wanted to get out of Washington state. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Washington and have a lot of pride being from Tacoma, but I also thought that college should be a time to experience new things, especially in a new environment with new people. I also had a slight idea of what I wanted to do, so I mostly looked at schools that specialized in that specific major. I also knew that I would thrive at a smaller school, but not too small so that I could experience something larger than Annie Wright.

According to The Washington Post, there are approximately 5,300 universities and colleges in the United States. With so many institutions to choose from, I was very overwhelmed and felt the need to check out as many as humanly possible. Realizing this was impossible and approaching a due date for the “Athena,” a spreadsheet from my college counselor that organized our top nine choices, I got my list together.

After creating my top nine and talking with many advisors, family friends, and family, I knew the only way I could really choose was if I actually visited the schools. My journey took me first to the east coast, visiting two schools in New York, one school in New Jersey, and one school in Boston. I loved the visits, as each was unique in its own way; however, it still did not solidify my choice. I then visited the west coast, one school in San Diego and one school in San Francisco.

Keep in mind, visiting this many colleges is costly (and the whole college process is already extremely costly itself, as people pay for things like tutors, sending in SAT and ACT scores, application fees, enrollment deposit, housing deposit, etc). In all honesty, I had a “self-discovery moment.” I had visited many schools at this point, but there was something different about my last visit. San Francisco felt like home to me and I knew more about myself than before.

I’m not going to lie; this was not an easy process. Many times I found myself stressed, frustrated and even hysterical. Seeing my family put so much money and time into this wasn’t easy either, and I often wondered if it was all worth it.

After coming home, however, I’m sure that everyone close to me would say that they saw a certain glow about me every time I talked about my decision. I am so excited to start this new chapter in my life and can really see myself thriving next year in San Francisco. I also urge you to remember that everyone’s process is different, but I hope that my story will inspire you or give you hope that everything will work out and it will all be worth it.