The college decision process is hard. The college decision process for a first year generation student; even harder. When I was a senior in high school, deciding what college to go to was one of the most difficult decisions I had to make up to that point. No one in my family had gone through the process before and I had no idea whether the decision I would make would be right or not. The right decision for my family, the right decision for my career, the right decision for me. It’s the last of those three things that I wish to focus on for this blog – the right decision for me.

When choosing my college, I found myself surrounded by many different factors that I thought would make or break my collegiate experience. How did the program I want to major in rank nationally? What’s the success rate of students that graduate from this institution? And many others. Although these are all valid questions to take into consideration, the most important question I was failing to ask myself was whether or not I would be able to consider the college I chose my home for the next four years.

That question was answered as soon as I step foot on Juniata College’s campus. My visit to Juniata was filled with “Hello’s” from fellow Juniatians, warm-embraces from faculty and staff, and many “I think this is the one” statements whispered to myself while I toured. Leaving campus the day of my visit, I knew that I had found the college I wanted to attend, and knew that in that moment, that that was all that mattered.

As a first generation college student, that feeling was the most important to me. That feeling that I could walk around Juniata’s campus feeling welcomed, feeling accepted, feeling empowered, and best of all feeling home.

Juniata wasn’t at the top of my list when searching for colleges, it didn’t have a nationally renowned Graphic Design program, it didn’t have the college-town vibe that schools like Penn State have, it didn’t have many things that I thought were important in my decision making process.

What Juniata did and does have is a community unparalleled by any other institution you can think of, a support group that ensures success in your intended career field, and a views that still manage to amaze me day in and day out.

The college decision process is hard. The college decision process for a first generation college student; even harder. There are narratives out there that push students to put everything into colleges that are perfect on paper and in rankings; but those narratives aren’t you. Your first generation college student experience is scary, intimidating, unique, and should be a decision made by you for you.

I hope that you all can feel the same way I did when visiting and ultimately choosing your college! It is a great sense of accomplishment and I wish you all the best on your collegiate endeavors.