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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Vic's Declassified School Survival Guide {Picking the right school}

Tell me you loved Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide too (How could you not love Cookie & Coconut Head?!).

Well, the show might have inspired the title of this next blog post series, but the contents are pretty far from the middle school musings of Ned & his gang.

I've been receiving a lot of questions lately about college advice, and seeing as what time of year it is (helloooooo acceptance letters!) I think I'll be seeing a few more of these emails in my inbox soon.

To kick off this series, it seems fitting that I'd start with picking which school to go to, much less how to navigate your way through it.

I know a lot of you all who applied Early Decision/Early Action/somehow before the regular application deadline are starting to hear back from schools, and I sincerely hope that you have good news! We'll do a post on what happens if you don't get great news soon.

When I received my acceptance letter from Rhodes, I thought I would die of happiness. I remember receiving an email on January 23rd or 24th, whatever Tuesday of that week was, of last year saying that the letters had been sent out. Panicking, (but trying to think logically) I realized that my letter should arrive by the end of the week since it was only going across the state.

I vividly remember receiving a call from my then future coach that Thursday night, and I told him that I anticipated that my letter would arrive tomorrow. I said that I had no idea what it was going to say, that I couldn't promise how fast I would swim, I couldn't promise how well my shoulder would do, but that if that letter said yes, I was on my way to Memphis to do the best I could.

Friday came, and I was freaking out. My parents were out of town that week, so I'd been responsible for taking care of my brother, our dogs, and the house in their absence, and had been a little stressed. I was absolutely terrified of what that letter was going to say, because I realized that there weren't any other schools that I loved enough to want to go to them.

I frantically went home during my lunch period to check my mailbox, and the mailman hadn't come yet. Still anxiously awaiting the news, I went back to class for the rest of the day and then went to swim practice. All I could think about was a piece of paper that was about to decide the rest of my life.

I changed quickly after practice and drove (way, way too fast) home, slammed the breaks in front of my mailbox, opened it, and there it was. My hands were shaking as I took it out of the mailbox. Other  acceptance letters I had received had some form of "Congratulations!" plastered to the front, so when Rhodes didn't have any adornment of the kind, I was scared to death. Thankfully, Rhodes just doesn't have anything special written on their envelopes, because that might have spoiled the surprise of me seeing a bolded "Congratulations, Victoria!" on the letter.

I know that that's a pretty lengthy and detailed story, but I tell it to you with a point in mind - I knew in my gut where I wanted to be. I knew that Rhodes was going to be the best fit for me, and with that in mind I may or may not have put a lot of pressure on myself to get in.

However, your choice may not be so simple. I applied to 4 schools total, 2 state schools, 2 liberal arts schools. The state schools were my backup schools, not because I didn't want to attend them, but simply because I knew I would do better in a small school environment. That eliminated two schools that were not my top choice, and between the two liberal arts schools, Rhodes just felt more like home for me.

But if you don't have that gut feeling, that calling, that is perfectly okay. If your heart isn't helping you figure it out, go ask your head where to go. Is one school more rigorous or prestigious than the other? Does one school have a program that you are interested in? What does the social scene look like at one as opposed to the other? Are you interested in Greek life or varsity sports? And the final consideration, and this one is very important, is the financial side of the decision. Are you prepared to take out student loans if you need to? Have you received a financial package that meets your needs?

If you still can't decide between two (or even three or four!) schools, flip a coin. Yes, I'm serious. When it's in midair, chances are you'll know which one you want.

xx, Victoria

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xx, Victoria