Now that it’s early April, my students have started getting back to me to let me know what schools they got accepted to. There’s a lot of happiness, a little disappointment, and some decisions to make from among more than one good option.
How I Chose
It brings me back to the time when I had to make my own decision, a lot longer ago than I’d care to admit. After all my acceptances and rejections were in, I had narrowed down my choice to Brown and Wesleyan.
Like most high school seniors, I wasn’t terribly equipped to make the best decision. I decided that I’d go back to visit each school. Luckily, I grew up in New Jersey so it wasn’t too far a drive.
The first available Friday instead of going to high school, I drove up to Wesleyan. It was pouring rain. The campus was a sea of mud. Nobody was out, and the students who were out looked miserable. I thought, what a terrible place to go to school. The weather’s terrible, the campus is ugly, and the students are miserable.
The following Friday I drove to Brown. It was a beautiful day. The campus looked amazing. There were tons of students out on the green, walking around, throwing frisbees, playing guitar, just hanging out and enjoying themselves. I thought, and felt, this is amazing. What a great place to go to college.
Well, I got lucky. After a rocky start, Brown turned out to be just the right place for me. But boy is it rainy in Providence, RI. It rains A LOT. The campus was often a sea of mud. There were many days when the only people who were out were the ones who absolutely had to be, and then only for the least time possible. It could not possibly have rained more in Middletown, CT where Wesleyan is, 80 miles down the road.
A Much Better Way To Choose
Sit down in a quiet place, it could be indoors or it could be outdoors, and imagine your perfect life in college. Begin to play with the images that you see. See different images of yourself doing what you love to do, what you want to be doing, of your different abilities and strengths, of the person you want to become.
Whenever you’re comfortable, let that turn into a movie of your ideal life in college, a movie that you direct. Run the movie over again as much as you want to, trying out various scenarios.
See the images in full vibrant color, like you’re living in the middle of your perfect life. See yourself the way you want to be, doing the things you love to do, living a life that you’re passionate about. Look around you. What else do you see? What do you hear? How do you feel? What does it smell like in the spring and the fall? You might even put music to it, for many people that intensifies the experience.
Walk through this perfect college experience. See yourself living out an exciting college life that allows you to do what you love to do and accomplish what you believe in. What are you doing? Who are you doing it with? What is the campus like? What are your classes like? How do you picture life in the dorms? How do you imagine your social life? Your other extracurricular activities, whatever they may be?
Enjoy the daydream for as long as you want. When you’re satisfied, jot down a couple of notes if you’d like about what you discovered from that experience.
You can do that exercise as many times as you’d like, until you have a solid imprint of what you want the next phase of your life, your college life, to look and sound and feel and be like.
Now look at the brochures from the colleges you’re considering. Look at their websites. Look at other websites where current students share their experiences. One of my favorites is unigo.com, though I’m sure there are many.
As you look through them, imagine yourself in those campuses, living your life in each of them as you imagine it to be. How does it match up with your vision of your ideal college life?
If you can, go visit your final choices again before you decide. Do the same thing while you’re there. Imagine what life would be like living at that school, and see how it matches up with your ideal college vision.
As you do that, as you match up those visions, you’re looking, or listening, for your inner wisdom, that voice or feeling inside of you that gives you that flash of inspiration, that feeling that, “Yes! This is the place for me!”
Then go with it. That’ll be the right choice for you right now. And know that when you get there, it’s going to be amazing.