When it came time for me to start looking at colleges, I had it in my mind that I was going to go far away from home. I was totally ready to go experience the world away from the supervision of an only-child home. Boy, did I believe that. And I had my sights set on Tulane University in New Orleans. If you haven't noticed this from my book synopsis, I love New Orleans. I still have a dream to possibly to attend Tulane (maybe graduate work), but that's beside the point. Tulane was so lively, small, cozy, close-ish to family if need be, and they have a great english program. I was all set to go. But then I actually started to think: distance, my friends, my future, and most importantly MONEY. I know money shouldn't be the key decision of where you choose to go to college, but if you're also thinking about graduate school, then it should most certainly be a part of the equation.
Because of this, I started to look at in-state colleges. UTK was out of the question. Half of my graduating class was going there, and one thing I was unwavering in--I didn't want to be in high school anymore. So I turned my sights to UT Chattanooga. In between Tulane and UTK in size, it's in a new, up and coming city, with a campus that's actually a campus, and a lot of good merit to it. I wasn't exactly dazzled by my tour. I remember asking about the music program, and my tour guide returning with "well, we have one"......... Yeah, so note to future and present tour guides, know your stuff. You're representing all aspects of the school, not just your own interests.
But I liked the campus, I liked that the english department wasn't totally forsaken, and I definitely liked the city. I could fit in here. So I applied to two schools--UTC and Tulane. I mainly applied to Tulane just to say that I could get into a competitive school with a fairly small acceptance rate--AND I DID!! However, I was satisfied with being a Moc. Don't get me started on our mascot...
I'm not going to lie to you, the first few weeks to month of college were Hell. My roommate was just as awkward as me and went to her boyfriend from home as a safety blanket. Which I don't blame her for. If I had had a safety blanket, I would've been running to it too. Everyone else seemed to be clicking except me. But slowly, I started to warm up to everyone. I started smiling, and talking, and hanging out in people's rooms. The people I lived with my freshman year are still some of my closest friends, and I will always be thankful for the living learning community that I had the opportunity to be a part of.
I've come to discover that freshman year is the year of desperation. You're grasping to make friends and hold onto them. You're looking for a place. And once you get into a groove, it's great. You have someone to go to Wednesday movies with, spring break plans, living arrangements for next semester. Then you get to sophomore year, and it's like the test year. Freshman year academics were nothing--basically high school. Sophomore year is when the academics really begin. Sophomore year is when you discover who your real friends are, who you can actually trust, and who just became your friend because it was convenient. But you're also more involved; you know the city. You're a little bit more confident.
I don't really know where I was going with this. I've just been thinking a lot recently about the difference between my freshman and sophomore years. They couldn't be more polar opposite, despite being in the same place with basically the same people.
College is great. I've had great laughs, made a lot of memories and some great friends. I've gotten to know a great city that I'm proud to call a second home, even if it is hipster. I'm proud to go to UTC, even though some people say, "But why would you go there when you could go to UTK?" UTC is a great campus with a lot of opportunities for students. I have an awesome mentor, a creative writing club, a christian organization, and our annual literary magazine just published my short story--the first official thing I've ever had published. Chattanooga has given me so many opportunities, and I know I made the right choice in UTC. I didn't end up far from home, but I landed in the right place. There have been some hard times, but that's a part of growing up, right? Wow, do I sound like an adult. Is this what 20 does to you? I wouldn't change my mind about my college. It's all a matter of finding the right fit for you. It's okay if your first choice isn't the best choice. Transferring is a hassle, but it's still an option. I wouldn't have my crazy awesome roommate right now if not for transfer students. So good luck picking your college, and to those of you who are there or have been there, I hope you made the right choice. I'm a Chattanooga Moc and proud!
For you prospective English Majors out there, here's a list of some schools with respectable english programs not in any particular order (shout out to my adopted Hix family for making me this list all those years ago!!):
1. Sewanee: University of the South
2. University of Virginia
3. Columbia University
4. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga :)
6. Emory College
7. Washington University
9. Tulane University
10. Hamilton College