You studied for the SATs, stressed over your college applications, and waited anxiously for your notification letters to arrive. Now that you have finally chosen a college, it’s time to tell your friends and teachers. While this can be a very exciting time in your life, it can also be a little daunting. If you are going to a school that is far away or somewhat unknown in your hometown, your friends might not have the reaction you were hoping for, and may even be a little negative about your choice. But there is no reason to let their reactions bring you down! Below are the five most difficult college choices to explain and a little advice on how to turn those negative views into positive attributes.
The State School
“I remember once when my friends and I met a businessman and he asked us where we were going to college. My friends went down the line saying where we were going and his responses were something along the lines of, "Wow, great school!" He got to me and I proudly said University of Massachusetts – Amherst. He nodded and moved on to my next friend. I'll never forget that experience.” – Caroline Bagby, UMass Amherst ‘11
State schools often get a reputation for being party schools, and sometimes even safety schools. But great nightlife is not the only aspect that makes many state schools appealing. They are often the most affordable choice (especially if you can get in-state tuition), and many state schools offer a vast number of opportunities, especially for motivated students who are eager to get involved with all that campus life has to offer. Caroline Bagby was accepted into UMass Amherst’s Honors College, and says this opportunity enabled her to experience every aspect of college life to its fullest. “I got to enjoy UMass’s amazing party life, as well as take classes with incredibly bright and driven students.” And while Caroline admits she was disappointed by the reaction of friends and even strangers who didn’t view her college as “elite enough”, she also says their opinions motivated her to prove them wrong. “People’s negative comments inspired me to get even more out of my UMass experience,” she says.
Director of Curriculum and Instruction of the college and career-planning program, Winning-STEP
And even if the school you are attending is big, it is still possible to enroll in small classes. “I go to a huge school with around 60,000 students, but I try to enroll in small, major-specific classes, which help me feel more connected to the teachers and material,” says Alana Peden, University of Texas – Austin ’11. Also, remember that a positive college experience is a well-rounded college experience, so don’t be afraid to express your excitement for the non-academic aspects of the school, like those legendary football games!
How to Handle This Hypothetical Conversation:
You: “I’m going to UMass Amherst.”
Friend: “Oh wow, you were clearly looking for that party school, weren’t you?”
You: “I'm excited to attend a school in a great city that has a ton of school spirit, but I was also impressed by the fact that they offer nearly 200 different majors. I think it will be the perfect place to discover what I’m passionate about and enjoy college life at the same time!”
The School No One’s Heard Of
“I got into the competitive state schools in California. Some members of my family were disappointed that I gave up those opportunities to go to an 'unknown' school.” – Megan, Washington University in St. Louis ’13
After doing months of research and maybe taking a campus tour, you can probably recite the Princeton Review statistics of your chosen school by heart. However, not everyone you share your news with will be as knowledgeable of your school as you are. And if you are attending a smaller school, or one that is far away, chances are that some of the people you tell will not have heard of it. But while receiving a baffled expression or shrug of the shoulders can be hurtful, Whitney says, “remember that just because you know about the college you are going to attend, doesn’t mean others do. Make a list of the best things about the college you will be attending to share with your family and friends.”
Keep in mind that a college’s level of familiarity ranges from city to city, and changes all the time. When I first decided to go to Emerson College three years ago, almost everyone I told in my hometown in California had never heard of it. Now, when I tell people where I attend school, most people nod their heads in genuine recognition, and I no longer feel the need to quickly add, “it’s a small school in Boston.” But while I am glad Emerson is becoming better known, I also miss the opportunity to enlighten my friends and teachers about what made Emerson a unique and perfect school for me. Despite being a very prestigious school, Megan’s family had never heard of the Washington University in St. Louis, but her enthusiastic attitude helped her family understand her decision. “Tell them why you love the school so much. Excitement is contagious!” she says.
How To Handle This Hypothetical Conversation:
You: “I’m going to Emerson College.”
Friend: “What? I’ve never heard of it…”
You: “It’s a small arts and communications school in Boston. I chose it because it’s one of the few smaller schools that offers an undergraduate major in Broadcast Journalism, which was really important to me. I also like the fact that it’s in an urban environment and located in America’s most popular college town!”