Choosing a College (AHHH!)

April 12, 2015

My first visit to Ole Miss {summer before senior year}.

Okay, so for all you high school juniors and seniors out there who are trying to decide where you want to go to college, I get it, it's hard! If you've known where you want to go since you were 5, I applaud you. If you are in the second semester of your senior year, trying to make up your mind before May 1st, I was right there with you just one year ago! I stressed and went back and forth between schools starting the summer before my senior year and didn't make my official decision until mid-April.

For a little bit of background, I applied to Yale, Georgetown, William and Mary, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, Miami of Ohio, University of Kentucky, University of Georgia, University of Illinois, Ole Miss, and Clemson. I had some schools that I didn't think I would get into and I had some safety schools, but I had no idea where I wanted to go so I pretty much applied everywhere. Toward the end of my senior year, after a few acceptances, a few rejections, and a wait list, I had narrowed my choices down to Clemson in South Carolina and Ole Miss. I never ruled out the University of Illinois, but I never really considered it. It's 10 minutes from my home town and its where the majority of people go. Going to school so close to home might be the right decision for some people, but personally I felt like if I went there, I would be home every other weekend and I would never leave central Illinois. 

I made a pros and cons list between Clemson and Ole Miss and this is what helped me to make my final decision: 

1. COST- I was offered significant academic scholarship offers from both schools and they were my two least expensive options, but Ole Miss going to cost about $64.000 less over four years. 

2. ACADEMICS- I got into the honors college at both Clemson and Ole Miss, both of which offered me a level of prestige that I wouldn't get just going to the school. As a school, Clemson in general was ranked better academically but Ole Miss has a really great academic program for my major, the Croft Institute for International Studies. At Clemson I would have had to major in International Business, or something more specific like Spanish.

3. LOCATION- Clemson is a whopping 11 hours from home, not possible to drive for a quick weekend. Ole Miss is closer at just over 7 hours from home, not always easy to drive home for a weekend but much more convenient. My grandparents lived about 10 minutes from the Clemson campus, a MAJOR positive for Clemson, but they were planning to move to Florida while I was still in college.

4. PEOPLE- Aside from my grandparents living near Clemson, I knew absolutely no one going there. At Ole Miss, I have a cousin who is currently a senior, I knew a girl from my high school who was a year older than me, and I had 2 other girls from my graduating class (including one of my best friends) going there. 

5. MUSICAL THEATRE- Clemson doesn't have a musical theatre program and Ole Miss does. I'm only minoring in theatre arts, but musical theatre is one of my favorite things. It wasn't a major factor, but it was significant. 

6. SOCIAL- Finally, this wasn't a factor that majorly played into my decision, but it helped. Ole Miss has a huge, fun, and diverse greek system. Traditions like football and tailgating in The Grove are also HUGE at Ole Miss. Clemson has a strong football program and a Greek system but it just did not seem as big of a deal. Oxford is also a great historic city with a beautiful town square and while I loved visiting the mountains around Clemson, the community atmosphere just didn't compare to Ole Miss.

Honestly, I think I could have been happy wherever I ended up, so don't stress! You'll figure out where you need to be! 

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