I applied to 11 schools, unnecessarily worried that I would not be accepted anywhere. Luckily, I was not as crazy on my transcripts as I seemed and I was accepted to 10 and waitlisted at the eleventh. So I found myself trying to figure out which of my top four - Dartmouth, Smith, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and Wellesley - I could see myself at for possibly the four most important years of my life.
Being all-girls was, I admit, at first a significant drawback to Smith and Wellesley but then I discovered some facts that I loved, especially Smith’s housing plan. When I thought about academics, however, the top three were Michigan, Dartmouth and Wellesley. I also realized that since I come from a rural Southern town it would be the biggest adjustment to go to the Midwest.
I not only did not receive enough financial aid from Michigan but realized that its lack of other things important to me - medium-size, liberal arts, undergrad attention, and over-all atmosphere - just wouldn’t make me happy. I wanted to be comfortable, able to branch out and meet new people, but not so overwhelmed by the magnitude of the campus and surroundings and classmates that I couldn’t get it together. So, the showdown.
Going to an Ivy was never the big attraction for Dartmouth, I actually had a strong attachment to it for other reasons. I had gone there to visit for a few days, met some amazing and funny and talented and outgoing people, ate some of the best dorm food ever (some of the best food period, in fact) and ended up having one of the most amazing experiences of my life, long before I visited Wellesley.
Wellesley seemed a distant runner-up. However, during their Spring Open Campus, I connected with the smart, intelligent women at Wellesley, the gorgeous campus (it is truly one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen), abundant other opportunities (fantastic study abroad and exchange programs, cross-registration and internships as well as the alumnae network, the vast resources for fun and games, a wide variety of clubs and organizations, the caring and impressive faculty, the classy dorms, the community spirit of the campus, the charming traditions, and the proximity to Boston won me over.
I later found out I could spend a semester or even a year at Dartmouth through a Wellesley exchange program to get a feel for the experience I might have thought I’d be missing. I could have the best of both worlds, with a little icing on the side. I learned to compromise, open my mind even after incredible experiences, to meet new people and expand, narrow broad choices, and to have fun.
Don’t stress out during the college visit and selection process. You must choose schools you think will make you happy and have what you want and can bring something to you as well as a place you can contribute to. I truly don’t regret my decision and if you are an intelligent, hard-working, motivated and fun-loving young woman you should seriously consider Wellesley.
No, there are no boys, but Wellesley women do date men, if they want to. Because they know what they are attending Wellesley for and they know that anything they want - a high-paying job, a decent living, researching Gandhian principles in India, reading poetry in Paris, or marrying the cute Babson guy right after college - is all within reach. Whatever they do, they will leave Wellesley with a first-rate education; lasting friendships and mentors; a vast alumnae network; a degree; self-confidence and self-worth; appreciation; a sense of humor; skills; compassion for others; knowledge of books, cultures and life lessons; and self-knowledge. They will make a difference in the world, somehow.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.