The Hype

The following is a late night reflection on the past twelve months, as I prepare to pack all my stuff in the Passat, drive twelve hours up I-95 with my dad, and begin my time at the George Washington University in one month. 

A year ago, I was finalizing a list of colleges to apply to in the fall. Then, I spent the next five months writing essays, taking a few more standardized tests, writing more essays, making resumes, revising those essays, creating portfolios, and revising those essays again. On top of that, I had the most grueling course load yet (senior year is not always easy, folks. don't believe the high school musical 3 lie). Oh, and I had added more colleges to my list. And taken some away. And added them back again.

Hopefully you are getting the picture: senior year was a whirlwind.  in the midst of that and despite all the work looking forward to it, college seemed a very distant reality.

Spring came, and with it, the waiting.  To give you an idea, three of my schools didn't give me an answer until March 29-April 1 (Actually, full disclosure: I was wait listed at one school, so technically the process didn't end until JULY 1). Then there was an extra two weeks of waiting until all my financial aid information came in.

Perhaps this is a rant, but I feel a little bit of duty to clear up the confusion about the college decision process for all the rising seniors and juniors. There is a copious amount of hype to finding a college these days--making sure you are at the best and most prestigious school you can afford. You are not getting married. You will not live or die on this decision. It is certainly significant; in fact, most high schoolers have never made a decision with this much impact in their life. But it is NOT the most important part of your life. So please, from someone who has done this and was overwhelmed and confused and sleep-deprived her entire senior year, don't let it consume you.

In my own story, after all that buildup, I had no "angel-choir-singing-hallelujah" moment when I stepped foot on George Washington's Foggy Bottom campus. Actually, I felt pretty uncomfortable. I was far from home, and I had to make a decision about the next four years of my life in a very short amount of time, while under some "end of school" academic and emotional pressure as well. Walking around GW on our last day, while my Dad and I discussed pros and cons of the school, I turned to him and just said, "Can I just decide to go here? Right now? Yes? Well, I think I'd like to go here." Many doors had opened for me to attend GW (it's pretty amazing, in fact). We had prayed. We had discussed pros and cons. We had seen it in the flesh. I still wasn't sure. I didn't have a magic feeling. So I just leapt in scary, shaky, feel-it-in-the-pit-of-my-stomach faith.

Since then, I'm happy to report a great deal of clarity about this decision. I get to attend a university that is a great fit for me, as a History and International Affairs major. I'll have opportunities for study abroad, community service, and academic research I never dreamed of.  On the other hand, I'll face serious challenges at GW that I wouldn't have to deal with at state school or a small, Christian college, or an ivy league, or a community college. You see,  I still don't believe in the myth of "finding your perfect college," and I'm sorry I bought into the giant collegiate rat race that high schoolers participate in these days. What I did learn this year is that God provides in funny, but very real ways. No joke: George Washington was the school on my list that I knew the LEAST about, and I didn't know a soul who had been there or knew someone who had been there. And yet, God still opened the doors.  He has given abundantly to me, even when I couldn't see the big picture myself. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is this: just be dedicated to His calling to you as a student and His calling to love him and love your neighbor, all the while knowing that He will have you where He wants you. He always has and always will.