Campus shot of St. Mary's College of Maryland, where Alejandro spent his freshman year.
It’s that time of year again. Colleges are gearing up to host their newly admitted students and if you’ll be an incoming freshman (or first year!) this fall, you may or may not be ready to call a campus home.
But before we jump into debating the myth of the "perfect" college, I want to remind those of you who may not be sure about the feasibility of making a campus visit, that some schools have “fly-in” programs that pay for admitted or even prospective students to visit their campuses. If you’re not sure if the schools you’re thinking of applying to or have been admitted to have these programs, do a quick Google search or reach out to their admissions offices. Visiting campuses can be a great way to learn more about the institution and get a feel for what the school is really like so make sure you don't miss out on an opportunity to go.
Okay, back to the subject at hand: is the perfect college a myth or even something you should aspire to find? That really depends on you. When I was doing college visits my senior year, I visited a few schools, all of which I liked, but none that I felt were what I was looking for. My last visit was Wellesley and it clicked immediately for me. Does that mean that it was the "perfect" college? I mean, for me, yes. Was my experience perfect? No. Nothing is ever "perfect". But I was committed to making the most of my four years on campus and did my best to find spaces where I felt at home, to take advantage of all opportunities, and most importantly, to always try and find the upside of less than ideal situations (sometimes way harder than it sounds, I know).
But some of you may be in a different boat. If you’re going to a school that wasn’t your top choice, or like many of us, are making your choice based primarily on financial accessibility, or simply aren’t thrilled about where you’re heading this fall, don’t panic. College, like many things in life, is what you make of it. So much of my college experience was predicated on the choices I made, the people I surrounded myself with, and the opportunities I sought out. You have a lot more agency than you might feel like you do at the moment.
So if you’re feeling like you need to be in love with your school because everyone around you is decked out in school gear, take a moment and remind yourself that we don’t all have to feel the same way about heading off on this journey.
College is many different things to many different people. For some it’s a life-changing experience, for others it’s simply the place where they spent four years and got a degree that allowed them to pursue the path they wanted, and still, for others, it’s an unconventional journey full of twists and turns and dotted by stops at multiple institutions. There is no “one-size-fits-all” college journey—nor should there be.
So wherever you may find yourself right now, take a moment and breathe. But perhaps, most importantly, don't make up your mind about where you're going too soon—give it time, who knows, you might be surprised!