The end of high school is quickly approaching for the Class of 2020. While the bedrocks of this era — prom, graduation, yearbook signings and more — may have been upended by the coronavirus, seniors around the country are still having to make the decision defining their next chapter. Choosing where to go to college is an enormous decision. And while it is a deeply personal one, there are still factors and priorities that all students weigh in making their decision. We are thankful for our two student ambassadors, Jessica and Shalini, for the vulnerability they’ve displayed with the entire RaiseMe community by sharing their stories with us these past few months. This installment is certainly a special one — the story behind the culmination of years of hard work and critical thinking to determine what is the best fit and next step in their lives, both academically and personally.
This is that story behind Jessica’s decision. Congratulations to her, and all students of the Class of 2020.
The Impact of the Coronavirus
After many incidents of pushing back the return date for our school, my district finally cancelled the rest of the school year. I kind of saw it coming, so it didn’t really surprise me when my parents told me the news. At some point I got tired of being in my room all the time, so I temporarily moved to another part of the house just to get some semblance of change and slept there for a couple days. I still skype with my friends every week, my mom and I finished yet another tv show together. I started writing a book while my mom completed her 7th puzzle. We’ve also taken to watching Marvel movies at the same time as my friend does because she’s never seen them and we would get together to watch them before the virus hit.
My online school is going well, especially considering I start AP testing next week, so most of my assignments are short or just review at this point. I’m really just trying to make it to the day grades are finalized and I’m officially done.
RaiseMe Insight: Taking the AP exams this year? While the logistics around the test have certainly been influenced by the pandemic, the tips to doing your best are consistent. Check out the AP testing advice from another RaiseMe student ambassador here.
The College Decision
Where are you headed and how are you feeling about your decision?
I’ll be attending the University of North Texas this fall as a member of the class of 2024!
I feel pretty confident in my choice of school. I visited last year when I was going through college tours and trying to narrow my options for where I wanted to apply. I loved the school and it just felt right! The only complaint I had about the campus was the main freshman dorm, which was extremely small and tight-fitting, and I’m not even claustrophobic, but all I have to do is just not apply there and problem solved! Plus I got a scholarship based on my class rank and SAT score, so the already affordable tuition got even more affordable for me. I’m also rooming with a friend of mine that I’ve known since kindergarten and who’s also majoring in the same thing as I am. We’ve already started planning how to decorate our dorm!
Did the coronavirus impact your decision on where you’re headed to college? If so, how?
Nope! I got my acceptance letter and I’d already said I would be attending and signed up for dorms and orientation before the virus cancelled the rest of my senior year.
Walk us through the process of choosing where to go to college. What steps did you take to make your decision?
I knew I was going to be accepted into UNT based on automatic admission criteria that I met, so that was just a matter of waiting for the official say. I already knew I liked that school, and by then my friend and I had already talked about rooming together. But I wanted to hear from the rest of my schools before I made an actual decision. I was pretty sure I was going there, because the only other colleges I was interested in were pretty out of my league. But then I got my acceptance letter to Pratt and my decision got a little more difficult, especially considering they offered me a scholarship too.
I was so happy I actually cried (I’m not kidding). Then Savannah College of Art and Design, the other art school I was waiting to hear from, sent me a text message (also not kidding) telling me of my acceptance before I even got an email or official letter with my scholarship offer in the mail. I did some more research on the schools and compared tuition again, and in the end decided that UNT was the better option. I emailed the schools to withdraw my application and thanked them for admission into their programs, and that was that. If I ever decide to transfer there after getting a more solid feel for what career I really want to pursue, I know I can always apply again and see what happens.
Please describe all the factors you considered in making your decision. How did you give certain priority to those factors, or weigh them in making your decision?
Well I wasn’t accepted to all of the schools I applied to, so that narrowed down my pool considerably. I mainly looked at cost, location, and student reviews. I also knew how much visiting the campus would impact my decision, so UNT already had an advantage in that field, but the fact that Pratt and Savannah were some of the best art schools in the US kind of cancelled that out. However, considering those two were both in New York and Georgia, respectively, meant that no matter how big of a scholarship I was offered, the out of state tuition would make sure that anything less than a full ride would still be too expensive for me.
I also live in Texas, and even though Houston is very crowded, it’s nothing compared to New York. I’ve never been there, and I don’t have any family there, or in Georgia, so I would be completely alone either way. I may be responsible, but I’m definitely not ready for that yet. However, I have 2 sets of family that live in Dallas, both of whom I’ve visited before. I also looked at reviews on YouTube of the schools from students that were in the same major that I applied for and looked at their course load and what they thought of the program.
I think the final nail on the coffin, though, was my future career. I applied under a Digital Media major for all of my colleges, but no matter how much I love art, I’m still not completely sure what I’m going to end up doing with my life. I’ve never done animation and I’m not familiar with any of the computer programs used in movies or television. And that’s kinda bad, even without considering that I’m super technologically inept. I also love writing and storytelling and I think it would also be cool to become a screenwriter or author. I don’t know if i’m going to change my major at some point, but I wanted to plan according to the chance that I might. I didn’t want to deal with the consequences of going to Pratt and then discovering that I don’t want to pursue an artistic career after, and then end up having to wait until the end of the semester before I could transfer back home. At UNT, if I decide that I really do love animation and I want to keep going with it, there’s always an option for me to apply to another art school again and transfer. I just chose to take the less risky option.
Where did you find support in making your decision?
I mainly communicated my thoughts and qualms about the decision to my friends and family and asked for their opinions on what I should do. My friends were very supportive, and my mom was even the one who was looking up student reviews on YouTube and showing them to me. I also asked my clarinet private lesson teacher, who helped edit my college essay for those art schools, what he thought I should do and I just compiled everyone’s advice into the little folder of information in my brain before deciding where to go.
What are you most looking forward to in going to your school?
UNT is a pretty well rounded school, but they’re very well known for their music program. I won’t be continuing in band or music in college, but I’m excited that I’ll still be around it and people that enjoy it while there. Plus I’m sharing a dorm with my best friend so that’s also awesome. She’s very adamant about finding me a job and a boyfriend, so we’ll see how that pans out.
What are you most concerned about?
I’m worried that I’m going to go through all four years of college and get a degree and still not know what I’m doing. I don’t want to think about the possibility that when I graduate I’ll never be able to find a job in something that I care about and I’ll be stuck in that job and then all my life will consist of is work, pay taxes, and hope that I can afford to go somewhere on my 2 weeks of vacation time a year in this economy that was ruined years before I was born. I hate thinking that I won’t end up being good enough for the dreams and goals that I want to accomplish and everyone I know will surpass me while I’m left behind, still as clueless as I was in college. But I’m also 80% sure I have anxiety and I’m a terrible over-thinker so everything will probably turn out fine.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Man, I just want to graduate and hug my friends.