Since starting my Full Scholarship List, I have been looking forward to using the profits to provide scholarships. This week, I had the opportunity to present my first My Kid’s College Choice local scholarship to a confident and bright young lady.
Below is the winning essay written by Beth, who will be attending University of Illinois Urbana Champaign this fall. The essay prompt was “What I learned about myself during my college search.”
A Time for Personal Growth
I have always believed that high school is a time of personal growth, the time where we learn who we are as people, not just as students. And while that is true, I never realized how concentrated in college searching our growth is until I experienced it for myself.
Growing up in a small town, it is easy to take on the general identity of the population and accept your surroundings. As children, we have no say in where we live and what we do. It is determined by our parents and the area we live in.
This all changes when you are asked to choose the place you will spend the four years [of college] at, though. Large or small? Urban or rural? State or private? All of a sudden you have choice after choice thrown at you. After living eighteen years with little permanent commitment, it is terribly difficult and daunting to make a decision that will impact your entire life.
It is during this time that we grow as people and learn about ourselves at a rapid pace. To make the required decisions regarding college, we have to look deep into ourselves to discover what we want. And as cliche as it may sound, it’s true.
For me personally, I discovered just how multifaceted and conflicting my personality is. As soon as I think I know what I want, I question the choice and refuse to make up my mind. I want this and I want that, but it is impossible for me to have them both, leaving me with an annoyingly hard decision. I learned that the only solution to these conflicts is balance and inflection, and that no one by yourself can make the decision.
I have also learned the significance of taking leaps of faith. Choosing a college is hard, and with the inexplicable fear of commitment that I have suddenly developed, it has become nearly impossible. With all the second-guessing I have put myself through, I realize that now is the time to take that leap of faith. I know that I will be happy no matter where I go, it is just semantics at this point.
My recommendation to everyone searching for his or her perfect college is simply this: keep your mind open. You got into this search thinking that you know exactly what you want, but you could be completely wrong. Take it from someone who knows. I entered my college search with these preconceived notions and ideas. I thought I knew exactly what my perfect school was, and ignored the schools that failed to meet those ideals.
At the end of my college search, right now, I regret that. I regret not being open to each and every college I visited, not looking at them with an open mind. Each college has its own advantages, ones that you may never think of until you visit. So do not allow your “perfect college checklist” to cloud your view because sometimes your perfect college is nothing like you imagined.