Seeking a college to call home

With midterm exams looming just a few weeks away, high school seniors are no doubt looking forward to enjoying their upcoming status as “second semester seniors” and passing the college application torch on to juniors like m

There is no shortage of horror stories about the stress of looming college application deadlines and the importance of choosing the right college at which to spend the four years of your life after graduation. But even though the next year will certainly be difficult, life after high school is more of an opportunity than a burden. That’s a perspective that is too often trampled by well-meaning friends, relatives and admissions representatives offering advice.

The freedom of college is equally revered by some and feared by others. Moving away from home, sometimes to a different coast or even a different country entirely, requires a huge adjustment. As much as I may be tired of hearing this, it is true that more freedom also brings more responsibility.

My college search has to be influenced not only by rankings, average SAT scores and acceptance rates, but also by my own desire to find an environment where I believe that I can successfully transition to an adult life.

I know it’s easy to suddenly find oneself in an uncomfortable situation, whether by making a few irresponsible decisions or remaining too tightly bound to the memory of high school. The right school for me will be one that encourages me to leave my comfort zone in the best possible way — to take risks and enjoy experiences I might not have expected.

Although the college lifestyle is a major change from high school, I am also looking forward to a challenge that seems even more daunting than sudden independence: a college education.

The intellectual freedom of studying at an institution you specifically selected as the best fit for you is unparalleled. For four years I will be able to learn from experts in their respective fields and study alongside students just as passionate about a certain subject as I am.

The opportunity to spend four years focusing on extending the breadth of my knowledge and stimulating my mind is one I am lucky to have and I intend to enjoy it.

When I graduate from college, I want to know that I have taken advantage of all of the unique opportunities that my school had to offer.

My goal is to receive my diploma knowing confidently that I have four years’ worth of experiences to treasure and that I am ready to tackle my next project.

To me, the college application process should not just be anxiety. It should be excitement. Every night spent worrying about extracurricular activities should be matched by one spent dreaming about the exhilaration of pushing both academic and personal boundaries.

Still, with a year and a half of high school left for me, it might be a little bit early to be worrying about the end of college. For now, I can just focus on appreciating the rest of my time in high school and finding a place I am excited to call home.

 

Danielle Connolly is a junior at Greenwich High School.

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