I remember hearing a lot of stories in eleventh and twelfth grade about people who, for different reasons, couldn't go to their number one choice college. And I would think to myself, but I will go to my number one choice college. These were stories about people who thought they knew the best school for them, who thought they were sure. And I would think to myself, but I am sure. These were stories about people who ended up going to another college and loving it, and being humbled by whatever forces of the universe had brought them to the right place at the right time. And I would think to myself, but I do not need to be humbled by the universe.
Here's the thing about my hard head: I wasn't just sure I wanted to go to Hampshire College. I had also already been sure for a year and a half straight. I knew their website in my sleep, upside down and backwards. I had exchanged emails with a Hampshire student. I had weighed my options and decided it could be feasible for me in every sense. I had carefully constructed arguments as to why I would get something there that I wouldn't get anywhere else. (Carefully. Constructed.) The possibility made my mind hungry and my spirit full. And I didn't want to be in high school, so I lived in my head. I can't emphasize this enough: Hampshire College was my preferred form of escapism for a year and a half straight.
And then it was January of my senior year and my history class had just been dismissed. One of my friends, who had applied to Hampshire on a whim and was a ridiculously fast reader, said something bold-sounding about Hampshire closing down and an email and a financial crisis. Whew! There was this chaotic moment where my classmates were filing out of the classroom as some juniors were filing into it as my history teacher was weighing in on what might be happening with Hampshire as the keyboard of my chromebook got blurry as I did my very best to comprehend a certain email as I had a panic attack in front of literally so many people as my senses numbed and the world fell away.
Obviously, I didn't go to Hampshire College. They didn't accept a freshman class the year I entered college, except for a tiny pool of students who had been accepted early decision. It was only very reluctantly that I had been convinced to apply regular decision instead of early, which at that point seemed like a curse. But I spent the next few days obsessively reevaluating my college choices, which brought Oberlin up from third on my list to first. By some strange twist of fate, the day I decided that was the same day I talked to my college counselor about Hampshire, and only two days before my college counselor, for some reason, was going to see the Oberlin admissions representative for New York City.
I had already applied to Oberlin regular decision. My college counselor told me that, given the circumstances, she could probably get the Oberlin admissions rep to switch my application to early decision 2, which would both give me a higher chance of being accepted and shorten the wait time for me.
I quit wallowing in pros and cons lists. I read Oberlin's course catalog. I read the blogs. Eventually I read the weird Oberlin '23 Discord group chat. I committed to warming my mind up to this place, this idea, this possibility. And the Oberlin admissions rep switched my application to early decision 2. And I got an email that burst with virtual confetti. And that's how it happened that there were less than two weeks in the span of my entire college process when I didn't feel completely sure that I knew where I was going.
I'll say it now, just so that 2018 me can cringe: I couldn't go to my number one choice college. I thought I knew the best school for me— I thought I was sure. I ended up going to another college and loving it, and being humbled by whatever forces of the universe brought me to the right place at the right time.