Tuesday, September 10, 2013

When the decision is easy

When I was a sophomore in high school, my mom and I started going on college visits. We spent spring break and several parts of summer break going from school to school, touring campuses, trying dining halls, and exploring book stores. I didn’t know a thing about college, other than that it was expected I would go. I didn’t have an older sibling to tell me about what I’d experience, no older friends to give me a feel for what it was really like to move away for four years. My parents didn’t go to college in the traditional sense – they both got their Bachelor’s and Master’s after being in the military for several years, and did it while working full-time and eventually raising kids. They didn’t have the “four-year” on-campus experience, so they didn’t have much wisdom to share with me in that respect. I was on my own to find the one that fit. Virginia has a ton of colleges and universities, and it was pretty much set that I would go in-state, and so my mom and I went from place to place, trying to determine where I would apply.

I slowly made a list of the places where I felt comfortable – for a long time (read: a few months), I was determined to go to William & Mary, and then I changed my mind and decided I’d go to UVA. Those schools felt alright with me; on the campus tours, the grounds didn’t seem too confusing, and every school seemed to generally offer the same amenities. I looked at the college students with my high-school eyes, and tried to picture myself among them. I could, mostly, and so I assumed that I’d just go to one of those schools I’d toured and eventually it would all be fine.

Everything changed one day in July, the summer after my junior year of high school. That was when I first stepped foot on the campus of Virginia Tech. I took the tour, and it felt right. I stood in the dorms, and pictured myself living there. I saw the students, and felt like I fit in. And then I stood on the edge of the Drill Field, and suddenly I felt like I was home. This was it.

I went back home and filled out my application. I was determined to apply Early Decision – and it was the kind where, if accepted, you were required to go to school there. I was good with that. Much to my parents’ chagrin, I refused to apply anywhere else. I was going to Virginia Tech. I had to. I would not apply to a single other college until I knew about VT.

Early Decisions announcements came out in December. My parents had gone out, and I was at home, sitting by the computer, anxiously refreshing the internet, waiting for my answers. I felt a little nauseous, but mostly just certain. Tech was where I needed to go. I would get in. There was no other school that felt so undoubtedly like home.

As luck would have it, I did get accepted, and I didn’t have to fill out any other college applications. I never regretted my choice for a single second – there was never a time when I didn’t feel like VT was where I was supposed to end up. Obviously, my choice of college shaped the entire rest of my life: I wouldn’t have met some of my best friends, wouldn’t have lived through April 16, wouldn’t have met my husband (or maybe I would have, but that’s another topic), wouldn’t have learned from the professors that I did… That decision to be a Hokie turned me down a path that dictated the course of the rest of my life.

Standing there on the Drill Field on that hot July day in Blacksburg, I stood at a crossroads of life – as cliché as it is. I had a choice to make, but I truly feel like fate made it for me. That very first time on campus, the decision was clear, and I never looked back. I’m pretty sure I will never forget that distinct moment, where I stood (literally) on the edge of everything, and felt like I was right exactly where I belonged.

Today's Blogtember prompt: Describe a distinct moment when your life took a turn.


RadiantKristen said...

I felt that exact same way about my college! I was pretty sure I knew where I was going until I set foot on the Indiana campus with my mom... I looked at her and told her, "this is it, mom," and she told me "I think it is." Very cool that you had a similar experience!

Lisa said...

You have very good taste in colleges. Or the one that you went to :)