If someone tells you they didn’t struggle with the college selection process, they’re lying. A year ago this week, I visited the University of Missouri (feels weird calling it that) for the first time with my dad. I couldn’t tell you much about how I felt now–college visits tend to go by in a blur. It stood out, for sure, but I’m not gonna sit here and act like I was blown away the second I laid eyes on the campus.
I know I wanted to not like it. At the time, I was dead-set on going to Tulane. I hadn’t even visited yet, but the name had so much more weight to it. I went to what I’d consider a very competitive high school. All of my friends, especially my closest ones, were incredibly intelligent in all ways and people were always finding ways to make you feel like you hadn’t done enough. People were going to Duke, USC, Parsons, any one of the Ivies (or as some would call, the Pomonas of the East. You’re welcome), the Claremont Colleges, you name it. I had spent my whole high school career trying to live up to people like this, and my parents wanted me to go to Mizzou? No way.
By March, I had visited Tulane, and I was literally convinced I was going there. It didn’t matter what anyone said to me. For every negative, three false positives popped into my head (doesn’t help to see snapchat stories of the Mardi Gras celebration this weekend).
Let me key you in on some very important information. I am a journalism student. I knew very well going into school that I wanted to be a journalism student. Mizzou is consistently ranked one of the best J-schools in the country. Tulane doesn’t even have one.
Now I know what you’re thinking. And I don’t know. I honestly don’t know how I could have gone like four straight months ignoring some of the most important information that would literally end up defining my future. I was aware of it, but I didn’t care. I think it was about a week or two before decision day that I finally caved. My mom printed out what felt like a 3,000-page document with information about why Mizzou’s journalism school is the best (Spoiler Alert: It is). I spent probably three hours crying way too much on my mom’s bed that night, and then I told her, “Fine. I’ll go there.”
The next few weeks I wanted as few people to ask me about college as possible. I dreaded May-Day, when I would finally have to show the “entire” school that I was going to Mizzou. I wore a shirt that said “Mizzou Journalism” and “World’s First & Finest J School.” I remember crossing my arms as much as I could, but still putting on a smile every time someone said “Congrats!” There’s only one moment I remember without fail from that day: I had study hall, and when I was checking in, the hall monitor noticed my shirt. She said, “You’re going to Mizzou? You’re going to love it! My two daughters are both in the J School.” She looked so proud to say that. “Are you a direct admit?” she asked. I told her that I was, and her face glowed. She told me how happy I should be. I remember feeling like bursting into tears. I don’t know why, but that day and that moment were the most overwhelming sequence of events. I was so embarrassed for not feeling as grateful as I should have, and I was still embarrassed that I wasn’t going to a school with a 10 percent acceptance rate.
Those feelings didn’t go away the entire summer. I graduated high school, still avoiding the topic of college. Every time it was brought up, I tried to “make up” for it by riddling the conversation with achievements from my high school career, something I already hated talking about. At the beginning of the summer, I went to orientation at Mizzou, and felt literally as neutral as one can about a school. The weekend was supposed to be about building school spirit, but I had zero emotional connection to the school. I loved the people and I was so glad to have met some of them, but I think my fear shielded me from starting a relationship with the school earlier on.
Along came August, and I was one of the first of my friends to leave. Scared out of my mind, I packed up way too many clothes and my roommate will probably tell you a few too many string lights as well. But I did it. I left.
There were multiple girls in my hallway that had already moved in because of sorority recruitment and seemed like they were pretty good friends by then. Obviously, that worried me. I mean, my first thoughts were along the lines of, “I could try” and “I could just not have any friends.” You don’t need to know the whole story, but let me tell you, those “It Gets Better” campaigns are scary accurate.
That roommate I mentioned earlier is now my best friend, one of a few (you know who you are:) ). There were multiple times in the first few months of being here where I looked at my friends and thought, “I’ve known this person for like two months. WTF.” This is not about my friends, but they deserve a shout-out, because they are just god-tier.
In high school, I was embarrassed for not feeling grateful. Now, I don’t go a single day without feeling appreciative of the things available to me here. This isn’t a scholarship essay, and I’m not trying to pitch Mizzou to you, but I’m telling you that if you trust those who know you best and you trust yourself, you will end up in the right place for you.
Thanks to Mizzou, I’ve been able to publish almost ten articles in a student-run publication focused in my interest area already. Next week, I’m going to New York to visit some of the biggest magazine publications in the country. I’m taking journalism classes that don’t put me in a big lecture hall and make me feel like a number, but instead I’m trying new things everyday and participating in discussions about journalism. I’ve started my own blog! Thank you, Brian Brooks!
My friends are student government senators, Tour Teamers, video editors, podcast creators, bilinguals, sorority leaders and all around top students. All of us will graduate from the journalism school with at least two years of actual work experience that we can put on our resumés–not in student publications, but real, accredited publications and studios.
I’ve had the best year so far, Mizzou. I’m sorry I didn’t believe in you at first. To those of you making your decisions for where you’ll be next year, whether it’s community college, a four-year university or no college at all, know that it will work out. I was so upset for a lot of senior year because I felt like I couldn’t be proud of going to one of the best journalism schools. I should have embraced it. I think my experience would have started off even better if I had. The phenomenon of not feeling “enough” has been made too important to the college search. It doesn’t matter where you go, because you can make it what you want it to be. This is especially true when you’re given the right tools (M-I-Z ;))
Happy college decision time! Trust yourself friends, it will work out. It did for me! And that’s pretty telling.
You are enough! ❤