seanna-85This past weekend, a group of 40 prospective students were visiting Pomona’s campus.  Last year, I was actually the intern who worked with the admissions office to coordinate activities for these weekends.  I remember trying to put together a list of parties, student panels, and events going on around campus to provide entertainment and a sneak-glimpse of the college.  But way before that, I remember visiting as a prospective student three years ago; everything seemed large and sunny.  I tried to sneak five-ounce liquids past airport security…ok—I didn’t try to sneak them…it was just the first time I’d flown in a long time and I didn’t know about the limits.  In case you’re wondering if they are serious about the three-ounce limit…they are.  I lost my body wash, shampoo, oversized deodorant, and hair oil.  First thing off the plane, I had to ask the admissions officer that picked me up if there was a local Target because all of my liquids had been confiscated back in Arkansas.  She was also the admissions officer who read my file and helped get me admitted to Pomona (with its 13{53c6eff5ce19621f7316832cfedf08caab022021f1679c62c3f44b8900ceaf72} acceptance rate)…she was probably questioning her choice at that point.

The weekend was an amazing blur.  It simultaneously made college a reality AND sold me on Pomona…a school that was 1,700 miles away from home in a state that I’d never visited before and knew very little about.  The people were friendly, the opportunities were more than I’d imagined, and the money was ideal.  I went home, and everyone around me knew that Pomona was it…even before I’d admitted it to myself.

Looking at the 40 prospective students this weekend, I was taken back to that period in my life when I was trying to choose which college to attend.  It seemed like a huge decision!  How would I know which one was THE ONE?!  Everyone kept telling me that fit was crucial and that my undergraduate decision would help set me up (or not) for plans after college (medical school, jobs, graduate school).  I’d never had to make such a large decision before, and there were an endless amount of opinions coming in from all different directions.  Not to mention, I was blessed enough to have several college options…several great options to choose from.  So what’s the point of this blog?  Why I have taken you down a brief trail of memory lane?

As you receive admission decisions and start to seriously weigh your options, try to visit the schools—especially those that are on the top of your list.  Many schools have spring fly-in programs for admitted students, and for low(er)-income students, these trips may be free.  I didn’t pay for anything on my visit to Pomona (besides the lotion and hair oil).  Reading about a school on a brochure is helpful, but the pictures can only provide so much.  Visiting gives you a chance to see the students and the buildings…where will you be living?  Where will you be taking classes?  What does the dining hall look like?  Better yet, what does the food taste like? 

Still, I understand that you may not be able to visit every (or any) school.  Time, money, opportunity…all of these things may interfere.  If you can’t go see it for yourself, try talking to a student from the school via phone or email.  Try to connect in other ways that will give you a better look at the college.  Lastly, be excited about this period in your life.  Rather than worry too much over making the “wrong” choice, think about the possibilities and opportunities at each school and stay positive.  August will be here before you know it!