Surf. Sand. Suntan U. The three-syllable ring of your pompous college title is, for many, a deciding factor that infects the mind when deciding where to go to college. My school, when mentioned up north, often gets a scrunched face and squinty-eyed response accompanied by a “What made you decide to go there?” remark. Of course, what naturally goes through my head next versus what actually comes out of my mouth are two entirely different entities. But seriously, come on. Why don’t you ask me that again in December?
I can’t lie. The weather was a significant factor in my decision to go to Miami. But hey, I’m young! Don’t sit here and judge me because I know some of you chose your colleges for the stir-fry stations you saw on your campus tour, or the girls and guys walking around campus in Greek shirts that you envisioned becoming friends with, or for a major program that you loved so much…until you switched out after your first semester. Trust me honey, we have all been there and done that.
Luckily, I have reasons to back my decision a little more. At least, this is what I tell adults as I stare into their disdainful eyes and blanketed frowns. I chose Miami for its engineering program, which boasts double the national average of female enrollees and supplies a specially tailored career services expert along with a plethora of research opportunities. (Let me just add that around this point, my criticizers’ eyes begin to droop and glaze over as my school slides into a dusty shelf of stereotypes in their subconscious nest. Only now do I know I have truly won them over.)
The point is, finding a school that is tailored to your true interests and which offers a cozy, personal feel can go a long way. Being in a class of 20 instead of 200 is life-changing, I promise. Finding a school that makes the idea of going to school excite you rather than intimidate you is also critical. And while your dream may have been Harvard, sometimes being a big fish in a little pond can have a positive impact on your experience and, frankly, your mental health. Rank may look good on paper, but the only paper you’re going to remember is the one handed to you on graduation day, containing an abundance of memories you will cherish for the rest of your life.
Also, remember to go to a school where you can shine. Truth is, it doesn’t matter where you go. I could be down the street at Southern New Hampshire University and still having a great time. Despite the fact that I’m 1,527 miles from home, my college experience is solely a reflection of the hard work I have put into crafting it to be just how I want it. In my view, college doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, it’s not supposed to be. No matter where you are, take advantage of your location. Sure, I go to school near the beach but that doesn’t mean I slack off. Please. I’m an engineer. I can’t possibly bake on the sand everyday and simultaneously maintain a good GPA, not to mention avoid malignant melanoma. It just means that sometimes I can take my linear algebra book to the beach and study away from the commotion of campus. Granted, not everyone will have the self-control to live in such a place during the four most important years of your early adult life, but if you can, then I say it’s worth it!
UMiami is my home. Everyone eventually finds their own place to call home. Wherever _ end up should be wherever is best for you, regardless of what preconceived notions others have of your school. In the end, your degree and your experiences are all that matter.