April 29, 2021 / Source: The Bizz USA
By Isabelle Sitchon
After four long, hard years of high school, I’m finally graduating. As I wrote my essays and studied for upcoming exams, I dreamt of my final walk as a senior. Walking down the graduation stage, receiving my high school diploma, looking up at the crowd to see my friends and family cheering for me--graduation day was soon approaching, and words could not describe how beyond excited I was to say that I finally graduated from high school.
However, in a rather short meeting with my college counselor, she finally asked me the long-awaited question:
“Which university are you planning to go to?” My counselor asks me, her face concentrated on the forms she was writing on.
I froze. In a few months, I’ll be starting a new chapter in my life, yet I hadn’t even really thought hard about which college I was going to go to. After getting accepted into most of my colleges, my brain had completely shut down the “post-graduation sector” and imported it into an area of my head where it knew I wouldn’t have any access to. That door opened, and several questions flooded my mind at once. Was I going to go to my dream school all the way in California? Was I fated to go to an in-state school a few hours away? Or would I resort to one of my safety schools? That last option dreaded me the most.
“I haven’t decided yet,” I replied to my counselor. She looks up at me with a smile on her face.
I gave her a fake smile, reassuring her with a “I’ll get right to it” and clicking the “end meeting” button on the zoom call. It was mind-boggling to me how I completely forgot about college. At the beginning of senior year, I had already made up my mind. I was going to go to a school outside my state, a school away from everyone, a school where I could be independent. Checking through the mental list in my head, I realized how fast my life was heading. Could I really handle it? Going to a completely different state, leaving behind all my friends and family, and being all alone?
I shook off all the mental clutter in my head and set aside space to think about another option. What about that public university four hours away? It’s as academically advanced as the out-of-state college, it’s got a great campus life, and it’s only a couple of hours away from home--I could definitely go there!
I took one look at my financial aid package and slumped down in my chair. I began to think, was I really cut out for this? Why was I so set on these colleges in the first place?
A few days later, the phone rings. It was a call from a close friend, who had been homeschooled all her life. We caught up, talked about graduating and summer plans. Then, I asked her the long-awaited question:
“Which university are you planning to go to?”
She paused for a moment, looking up at her ceiling in deep thought. I hear a sigh come from my phone’s speakers, and her sullen face appears on my screen.
“I don’t know,” she says to me, “I’m figuring it out right now.”
I mentally collapsed in relief. If she had gone off on a tangent about her college plans, I would be happy for her, but nonetheless, I was more worried for my own future. It was reassuring to have someone in the same boat as me.
“I’m sure you’ll figure it out eventually,” I said to her.
This piece of advice was meant for me as well. The college decision process is a difficult one--a process that isn’t akin to the overwhelming stress of high school tests. Instead of researching biology topics the night before the quiz, you’ll be researching for your own future. (hopefully not the night before!) For most people, it’s a lot to take in, but what you decide right now isn’t the end-all-be-all for the rest of your life.
I can’t exactly tell you what and what not to do. Ultimately, it’s your decision. However, I’ve found that it’s not crucial to plan out every little detail of your life. For a number of us, we’re about to take our first step into the “real” world, and with it comes unexpected twists and turns. You might enroll in one of the best schools ever and may end up feeling lost. You might find yourself in a school that wasn’t at the top of your list, but may end up loving the community. You might even find a passion in a career that may not require a four-year degree.
Whatever you end up doing, make sure you do it with all your heart and soul.
After four long, hard years of high school, I’m finally graduating. In a few months, I’ll be starting a new chapter in my life at a university that isn’t my dream school. There will most definitely be ups and downs, highs and lows, regrets and mistakes, but it’s going to be alright. You’re going to get through this.
So to all the seniors struggling to transition after high school: it’s alright to struggle, to not know exactly what you’re going to do in the future. It’s alright that you’re not studying at the most prestigious school. It’s alright to take some time to explore what you want to do in your life. Most importantly, it’s gonna be alright, because all of us are going through this too.