If I could use two words to drive fear into the hearts of Scots (and high school seniors) everywhere, they would be what I’ve decided just now to call the loch ness-nes: hopelessness and indecisiveness. Like Nessie, the fabled Loch Ness monster and member of the cryptid family (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptid), these words are terrifying, intriguing, and cause for grown Scotsmen to drop their bagpipes (hopefully) and kilts (hopefully not) while fleeing in a panic.
Coincidentally, those two words describe my own college search to a tee. I was that Scotsman. I was not the confident, decisive high school senior I thought I was supposed to be, and that was scary - maybe even scarier than horrific sea beasts.
By the time Early Decision rolled around I was still figuring out what the deuce the common app was and had a list of schools I “liked” longer than my list of uncompleted application to-dos, which was equivalently goliath and equivalently intimidating. The problem was a simple case of 1st grade teacher syndrome: I was too nice. Each school I visited was “good” and differentiating between similar information sessions, similar campuses, similar clubs, similar classes, and similar students seemed impossible. I didn’t have a visceral “eww!” reaction to a single university.
Worse yet was my power of imagination. I could see myself (you know, like well-intentioned mothers ask you to do) at a number of schools, happily living in my niche. I didn’t have the heart to turn from the truth I found as reasonable as it was difficult: I could be happy (almost) anywhere. It was a liberating blessing and an indecisive curse.
It didn’t quite satisfy those hunting for college gossip, either. My friends and family respected my hypothesis but nevertheless bombarded me with the inevitable questions of rank. “What’s your top choice? Have any favorite realistic schools? Where do you want to be?” I hate it. Like natural scientists despise the Loch Ness monster I hated those unanswerable, unceasing questions. I tried to explain myself in terms of complimentary words: open, free, level or excited. But the words’ unsavory connotations overtook my thoughts: indecisive, hopeless, and fleeing Scotsman.
So, characterized by doubt I applied to too many schools without giving them much rank at all. Characterized by disappointment I was rejected from a few. Characterized by jumping, skipping, and shouting frantically I was accepted to a few more. Then, characterized by dumb luck I somehow found myself enrolled at a place I love: Tufts.
If you’re questioning the gap between “not much rank” and “place I love” then you know exactly how I felt. I guess chances are if you’re a high school senior you know exactly how I felt. Maybe, like relationships, it just takes time to fall in love with a university. I wasn’t graced with the love-at-first-sight thing my friends supposedly experienced (which makes sense - remaining conscious during romantic comedy films is decidedly not my forte) so I felt like an outsider throughout the beginnings of the year long admission process. I forgot that opinions develop and evolve.
College acceptances cleared my head and made my final decision decisive, as it should be. The earlier inability to differentiate had been eradicated but, frankly, it had been okay. I didn’t have to be 100% confident 100% of the time. Nobody is, and it’s only the result that counts, right? The anxiety I suffered from my indecisiveness and open thought process wasn’t based in reality because sometimes not knowing is okay. Like good ol’ Nessie it didn’t really exist.