“What colleges are you applying to?”
“Do you know what you want to major in?”
“Are you going to get a dorm or live at home?”
Every high school senior has heard these questions countless times. To some, it feels like they’ve been waiting to go to college forever. To me, however, the college admissions process seemed to come out of nowhere. I had finally started adjusting to the high school lifestyle when I started getting peppered with questions about how excited I must be to leave.
I wanted to get excited about college, but every time I heard one of these questions all I could feel was worry and anxiety.
My mom recognized this and had the perfect idea to get me jazzed about going to college – a road trip!
We primarily planned to see Stanford, which my friends had all given glowing reviews. On a whim, we also decided to visit the University of California, Santa Cruz, since we would be staying in the area.
We hit the road on the morning of July 6. One 7-hour drive and three Beatles albums later, we arrived at the Holiday Inn Express in Santa Cruz.
Drifting through the various eateries, bookshops, and clothing stores that downtown Santa Cruz had to offer, I wondered to myself if I would be here next year as a UCSC student. Would I come to Logos Bookstore to browse the records with a group of eclectic and interesting new friends? Or would I sit in the dorm every night, paralyzed by social anxiety?
The next morning we drove to the Santa Cruz campus, which was only about 8 minutes away. We purchased a parking pass and headed over to the tour office to pick up a self-guided tour.
To our surprise, the room was full of people- they had booked a tour and it was about to leave in 5 minutes. Even better, they had a few extra spots and we were free to join! We were amazed at our luck.
Walking through the campus took my breath away, and not just because it was on a hill. Every walkway was surrounded by redwood trees, and looking through the trees we could see the beach, only a mile away.
Suddenly, I could see myself walking down these paths or waiting at these bus stops. The tour focused on exactly what I was looking for- ingenuity, leadership, and discovery.
The next item on our itinerary was to see Stanford University. The first thing we did there was go to the top of Hoover tower, which allowed us to see the entirety of the vast and green campus.
It was clear that Stanford would be a top choice for any student, with world class programs in every discipline.
After visiting Stanford, we drove down to see my mom’s old friends from high school and stay with them in Scotts Valley. Talking to their daughters about their college experience helped solidify what I had learned on the UCSC tour. College is a time for a person to flourish, to make new friends, and to discover who they truly are.
On July 8th, we hopped back in the car to make the journey back to Riverside. For the first time, I felt ready to go to college. Looking at dozens of websites and brochures had only made me anxious and worried, but travelling to two beautiful and unique campuses with my mom showed me that wherever I go after high school, there will be something to be learned and nothing to be scared of.
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