We all have talents as humans. Some people can sing. Some people have the ability to walk a tightrope. Some people can knit sweaters. When faced with a decision – pick either this or that – I have the amazing ability to choose both options. It seems that I'm really good at making up my mind and then unmaking it.
So this is probably a bunch of nonsense ... perhaps there's psychological research out there that shows that people like me want to be able to choose everything, not just one thing. More likely I'm just trying to justify my terrible inability to settle on something. I think this characteristic is what's made deciding on colleges so hard.
There're so many options, and I want it all! I am apprehensive about limiting myself to, say, just small colleges or just large colleges, because I fear missing opportunities or advantages that one or the other may have. The solution to that sounds easy: don’t limit yourself. But I’ve found that it’s difficult for me to want to go to a big school and a small school at the same time. It’s been a struggle, but I’m getting past this tendency.
My application outlook has changed. As of a couple weeks ago, I was interested in big universities because of their resources and prestige. Now, rather than going exclusively for big state universities, I'm focusing on liberal arts colleges in California for the depth of education and individualized attention. So why hadn’t I realized this before?
I guess I can attribute the initial change of thought to a visit to one of my classes by a college admissions representative. The rep was from a small school nearby. I decided that I wasn’t interested in that school, but the rep made some good points about the advantages of a smaller liberal arts school. For example, the percentage of students who graduate in four years is often higher at smaller schools because there is less competition to get into the classes you need to graduate. I took another look at the list of schools where I planned to apply and realized that they were almost all big state schools. I continued researching and found that I shouldn’t have brushed off the liberal arts schools so easily. I feel like I'll be able to get more out of a school where the professors are there to teach you as much as they can rather than research and publish as much as they can.
I have started my applications to Pitzer College, Claremont McKenna College and Occidental College. Pitzer and Claremont McKenna are both part of the Claremont College Consortium, a group of five schools that share resources and classes. The Claremont schools have a really good reputation in the West. In addition to these three "small" schools, I'll still be applying to UCLA, UC-Berkeley and UC-Davis. And I'm keeping American University on the list.
I wish this application process would just go away! Can't someone else just do it for me? That's what I really want. Just give my information to all colleges and let them decide which one I'll attend. I have started some essays and some applications, which made me feel better. Surprisingly, the act of completing the applications isn't that difficult. My essays seem to be coming along pretty smoothly as well. The goal is to get everything out of my house and off my computer by November 30. Can I make it happen? Stay tuned to find out.