Up until the moment when I pressed the “accept” button in my application portal for CU Boulder, I had no idea I would end up there. I was convinced from a young age that I would go to school in a small, liberal arts, private university on the East Coast. I wanted to stay close to home and was obsessed with the idea of going to an ivy league school. Boy, am I glad that didn’t happen.
The spring of my senior year of high school was difficult for me. Everyone around me seemed to be getting into their dream schools, and I wasn’t. With skewed admissions due to COVID, acceptance rates were plummeting everywhere. I remember before acceptance season, my friend said to me that most likely at least one person from my friend group would “lose”. Statistically, it was inevitable. After hearing back from all the schools I had applied to, I definitely felt like the loser.
After looking at all my options, I decided to enroll at CU Boulder. I had never visited the campus. I had never been to the state of Colorado. In fact, I had never been to the midwest in my life. It was a huge risk. After looking at some pictures of campus I decided to take it. Although I knew nothing about the school, I knew I liked to ski, hike, socialize, and have a good work-life balance. It seemed to me that many of the students at CU were the same.
By the time August rolled around, I was counting down the minutes until I could finally be on campus. I was so excited because I knew I would make the most out of whatever came my way. But nothing could prepare me for just how amazing CU Boulder would be. I quickly realized that CU had a very unique environment that focused strongly on the importance of the work-life balance. Not only that, but the energy on campus was always positive and exciting. Three hundred days of sunshine a year only added to that, as did the beautiful mountains.
Instead of sitting in a dorm room all day, my friends and I were able to go on hikes at the national park conveniently located a mile away from campus. Somedays, we go to Pearl Street to enjoy the many unique, amazing restaurants there. Thanks to the plethora of engaging activities for students in Boulder, the student population seems to have positive and exciting energy. It’s no wonder that Boulder, Colorado was rated the happiest town in the United States by National Geographic!
In addition to lifestyle, Boulder is also engaging and challenging academically. Due to the size of the school, the faculty don’t have the ability to “hold every student’s hand” all the way through. While this may sound daunting, it actually serves as an important part of learning to be independent. It facilitates an environment where students must hold themselves accountable, and learn how to do things on their own through trial and error. In that way, CU Boulder not only teaches their students academic content but also teaches them how to learn. It reinforces that later in life you will have to figure out how to solve problems on your own, whether that be on the first try, or through investigating the issue from different perspectives.
In only one semester, I feel like I have found my new home. From the mountains to the amazing new friends I have made, CU has changed my life in so many positive ways, I could never imagine going to a different school. It took many months, but I finally realize now, that I was never the one to “lose” in the college application process. In fact, I would say I was the winner.