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College Decision Time!!

In which Greta reflects on her Accepted Students Days and offers advice for making a virtual college decision.

In which Greta reflects on her Accepted Students Days and offers advice for making a virtual college decision.

Congratulations to anyone reading this who has recently gotten into Carleton!

And to those who didn’t, or who are on the waitlist: I’m truly sorry. I know it’s hard. Trust me, I’ve been there.

Either way, you will get into and attend the school that is right for you.

That’s what today’s post is all about. Not finding the *perfect* school, or the one that is going to shape your future for the better in every single way. You don’t need to come to college and find the love of your life or your true calling. Not every moment or class or person you meet has to be life-changing. In fact, most of them won’t be.

But you will find a college where a few of them will.

Greta at Carleton

Stepping onto campus for spring term, I was reminded of the first time I visited Carleton: Accepted Students Days, 2018.

Spring was in the air, the Lyman Lakes (pictured above) were beautiful, the a capella performance was exactly what I imagined college to be. I wanted so badly for everything to be that perfect. Carleton was the one school I’d gotten into and was seriously considering that I hadn’t yet visited. If I could just get one little sign that this my dream school…..

Of course, having such high expectations meant that they were bound to be dashed to bits.

A lot of my experiences that weekend really were wonderful. I sat in on two really cool classes, one in biology and one in English. My host student was super nice, and she lived in Goodhue, the dorm I’ve now lived in for three of my four terms on campus. I also randomly met the president of Carleton Democrats in the dining hall and chatted with her for almost an hour. I explored the Arb, the Cookie House, the Gender and Sexuality Center. Some of those things have ended up being major parts of my college experience. Some of them haven’t. That’s okay either way.

But Accepted Students Days were also exhausting and overwhelming. They were filled with awkward encounters with other prospective students, all of us trying to figure out if we’d ever see each other again. I also knew I wanted to take a gap year, so I was trying to think sixteen months in advance. The whole time, I was just waiting for someone to jump out from behind a bush and tell me that this was the place I was meant to be.

I know now that’s not how life works.

I know now that all decisions are just that: decisions. There are no right or wrong answers (within certain moral limits)—just ones that end up happening, and others that don’t. I especially know now that all institutions are imperfect, and the world they exist in is even more so. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught me that. It’s probably taught you, too, much sooner than I learned it.

Looking back, I understand what everyone was trying to tell me back then: you’ll do well wherever you go to college. Although, I’ll make one amendment: you’ll do well, and sometimes, you won’t.

College has been full of ups and downs, mistakes in my control, mistakes out of my control, learning experiences, and yes, also wonderful experiences. I’m glad they’ve happened at Carleton. That’s how I know I’m happy with my college decision.

But back in 2018, I just chose a college the good old-fashioned way: trial and error.

After getting home from Carleton, which entailed getting stuck in an airport during a blizzard (email me and I’ll tell you the whole story), I narrowed my list down to two schools. I decided to visit the other one for the second time the next weekend. I went with high hopes, and….

One of the classes I sat in on was super boring. My host students were annoying, or just way too chatty for my taste. I had no coincidental encounters with other students, discovered fewer campus communities or hidden gems.

I sent in confirmation of my acceptance to Carleton the next day.

Greta Carleton Acceptance
*actual excitement pictured

To all of you reading this in 2021, I know that college visits, especially staying with host students or visiting in-person classes, are likely not an option. Luckily, there are other ways to make a college decision!

  • You’re practicing a great one right now: reading the Admissions Blog! There are posts about literally everything here. I know, because I write and edit them 🙂
  • Take a virtual tour! This one does a good job of simulating some of those random encounters I was talking about.
  • Explore these virtual offerings, and advice from Lettu, who also made her college decision virtually.
  • And again, email me! Or any other one of the bloggers whose posts you vibe with. Pro tip: our emails are always linked to our names on our bios.

You got this!!

Greta is a sophomore and a proud Vermonter who loves the Minnesota prairie almost as much as the Green Mountains. She enjoys writing constantly, playing piano, and spending time outdoors. And eating lots of chocolate. She wants to learn everything, but she has a major in Latin American Studies and a minor in Creative Writing. Meet the other bloggers!