I can still remember my guidance counselor gathering us in a classroom to talk about college at the beginning of my 11th grade year. I knew I was going to college, and I only had one school in mind – The University of Texas at Austin. This goal was on my mind my entire junior year.
You see, my oldest brother had just graduated from there and had set the bar high for us younger siblings. I had the grades; I was in the top 5% and knew I had every capability of getting in.
But, I didn’t end up going there.
Once into my senior year, I remember thinking about how I didn’t want to write an essay, which is a pretty ridiculous reason not to apply to a school. By that point, I had received plenty of brochures from colleges trying to convince me to apply.
One particular school stood out to me - Abilene Christian University. They seemed to have a great campus environment; I had the grades, they had majors I was interested in, and they were far from my hometown! Not only that, but the real kicker was that they were offering either a free iPhone or iPod to admitted students. Steal deal.
I remember applying early spring of my senior year and deciding that was the only place I’d apply because I knew I would get accepted.I realize now that being cocky is no way to be when you’re applying to college. After talking with my parents, and after my father told me to apply to more schools, I decided I should have a backup option. I applied to University of Texas Pan American, which was about 30 minutes from my parents’ house. This was pretty much the safety option for anyone living in the Rio Grande Valley and not my first choice by any means.
As expected, I was accepted to ACU, but my financial aid offer was not the best. It could have been that I did not apply early enough or that my parents made too much. Either way, it was not going to be enough to cover what a private school cost.
Devastated, I ended up at UTPA. Again, it was not my first choice, but ultimately, I had a good experience there. I learned that your education is what you make of it.
What advice would I give based on my situation? You’ve got to do the leg work. When it comes to college admissions, it is important to work hard and make sure you take all the risks and chances you can.
Apply to all the schools; seize the opportunities, regardless of the amount of work it’s going to cost you. This season comes and goes. Actually, it flies! You want to be in a position to choose which school is the best option because you have a few offers. They don’t have to be from a ton of schools, but giving yourself options will have an impact on your future.
This is my story, but you have your own. Make decisions with wisdom, and whatever you do, do it well. Contact your CAA coaches to discuss your college plans!