My Leap Of Faith: Why I Decided To Go To College In A State I Had Never Been To

I went to high school in a small town in Maryland. It’s one of those towns where everyone knows everyone on an oddly personal level. It’s the kind of place where you run into your teacher at a Friday night football game, run into your mother’s hairdresser at the gas station, and then run into your math tutor in aisle two at Walmart. Regardless of its size, this town is filled with memories of my high school years. Specifically, memories of my friends and I walking the boardwalk of the Chesapeake Bay. Whenever I’d look over the Bay, I always had a yearning desire to jump into the Bay and swim away. Of course, this was an irrational and implausible idea, mostly because I probably wouldn’t get very far. Regardless, I often thought about what was waiting for me beyond the shores of Havre de Grace.

As I progressed through high school this feeling did not fade. Midway through sophomore year, my counselors began coming to our classrooms to talk about our future college plans. The only colleges my counselors would inform us about were Maryland schools, which ones had ties to my county, and who could get us jobs in our current town. On the other hand, they would tell us it would be ideal for us to go to a community college that was about twenty minutes away. This is when I started to notice the pattern. I realized that this is how small towns are sustained. Students are encouraged to go to college nearby, then are expected to get jobs in the same town, and the cycle continues.

When I would try to talk to my counselor about applying to an out-of-state college, I was sidetracked into looking at in-state schools. My problem wasn’t with these institutions themselves. Rather, my frustrations were with the cycle my school perpetuated and the seemingly inevitable conclusion of remaining in Maryland. I loved Maryland, I loved my town, and I loved my friends and family in Maryland. However, I did not want to become one of them. 

Deciding to enroll at Rhodes College is one of the best decisions I ever made of my life. People always ask me why I chose to go to a state that is fourteen hours away from Maryland. Aside from the obvious academic reasons that come with attending Rhodes, I chose Rhodes because I knew I needed to take a leap of faith. I knew I needed to open a new chapter in my life separate from Maryland. At times it can be scary. Minuscule things such as trying to understand new road patterns or trying new foods can be uncomfortable. However, moving out of your comfort zone is always uncomfortable. Making this decision was easy. I had to ask myself one important question: would I look back at my life in four years and be happy if I stayed in Maryland? When I asked myself that question and answered with “no”, I knew my decision was made.