Staring at a maze of retractable belts, I give my parents one last hug before going through security check. As I wait for my plane to board, I pull out a pamphlet for an out-of-state university. I smile and prepare myself for the next chapter in my life. This is–or was–how I expected my last few days in town to be like before heading to college.

I always imagined it to be this way; studying in-state didn’t seem like an option. During freshman year, I wanted to apply for Berkeley University. Once I realized how low the acceptance rate is, I started looking at University of California, Davis (UC Davis). By the time I got around to actually applying for universities, I broke down my options–University of Washington, Seattle (UW), Seattle University (SU) and University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).

UNLV accepted my application first. Turns out, UW did end up rejecting me–but I got accepted into SU with a $14,000 scholarship. At first, I was ecstatic; knowing that I was able to get into a school out-of-state was a dream come true. I broke the news to some loved ones, and they were all happy for me. However, all of that excitement died down after I realized I had to start deciding between UNLV and SU.

This entire week, I have been having stress-induced breakdowns that were caused by my confusion alone.  Do I think UNLV or SU has everything I look for in a school? Am I ready to leave my family? Which state has better weather? Should I do my pre-reqs for medicine at UNLV or study marketing at SU, where I’ll be closer to big companies like Amazon?

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I underestimated myself. In the back of my mind, I didn’t actually think any out-of-state university would accept my application. For the past few months, I only thought of UNLV. Part of it was because I was constantly told by my coworkers and alumni that they couldn’t even get into the schools they wanted, while another part told me I wasn’t good enough. Now, I’m worried about making the wrong choice and regretting it in the future.

If money was not an issue for me, I’d be packing my bags for SU in a heartbeat. But, since money still plays a huge factor in my decision, I keep looking back at UNLV. I should have applied for more scholarships and worked harder to keep my grades up for better opportunities. The more scholarships that I earn, the easier my decision could’ve been.

When you think that you have your entire future sketched out, think again. Big decisions like choosing a college to attend aren’t as simple as you may perceive them to be. Money, location and environment are just a few factors that matter in the decision process. Don’t over stress yourself, though, because whichever decision you make should be the one that you truly believe is right for you.

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