Morrisville, NY: I had filed my applications, visited the campuses, and received my acceptance letters. A year of waiting, wondering, working and worrying had brought me to the most important choice I would make in my 17 years. I had applied to and been accepted at three schools, and now I was forced to make THE DECISION.
Each of the three offers I received had its positives and negatives and I had to weigh those factors to identify the most attractive of the three.
I hadn't visited the large, private school I liked in a "preparing-for-college" capacity, but I had been there on a school trip and the beautiful campus enveloped me. The size, though, was a bit overwhelming. Another problem: I knew I couldn't afford a $20,000-per-year private school that could only offer me a small scholarship.
My first actual college visit, at my second college choice, was a nightmare. The large school was a maze of construction and parking spaces that didn't exist. I had images of getting my student number tattooed to my forehead to be identified on this campus. I also knew I wasn't impressed with the admissions interviewer who paid more attention to the crowded city outside his office window than he did to me and my mother.
The main factor that turned me away from these schools was the debate over whether or not I wanted to be locked into a four-year program straight out of high school. I thought I knew what I wanted, but what if I changed my mind? Would I be stuck in a program I didn't want to be in, or would I rather be in debt up to my ears? Neither choice seemed attractive.
My third visit brought me to the school with the right fit, the right feel, the right everything. Faculty, size, price and program quality added up to send me to a small college in central New York, just south of Syracuse, and just like that, the decision was made. SUNY Morrisville (State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology) would become my home away from home for the next two years.
My first visit to the campus was in August after my junior year. The 4-hour drive was a drawback at first, but once I arrived on campus, and learned about one of the nation's best 2-year journalism programs from the three greatest instructors I will ever know, my mind was made up. I knew I belonged in the center of this whirlpool of energy, compassion, excitement, controversy and family.
After touring the photography facilities, the radio station and the newsroom, my mother and I sat down with the department chair in a quiet, comfortable classroom. She didn't talk AT us, she talked TO us. She outlined the program, told us about some classes and fired off names of a few successful alumni.
But she went beyond mere recruitment tactics. She instantly became a friend and confidant as she LOOKED AT US and talked WITH us. She asked about our family and told us about hers. She wanted to hear about my high school activities and interests and about my plans and dreams. I felt as if I were talking with an old friend who I hadn't seen in years.
I wouldn't meet the other faculty members for a few months, but I became as close and comfortable with them as I was with her.
Correspondence between the school and me became frequent. I was offered a scholarship. That was the reason for my second visit to Morrisville, and my first official tour of the campus.
After lunch with the college president and other top officials, we were taken on a tour of the small, comfortable campus. Parking seemed ample, trees and grass were everywhere, plants lined many of the neatly kept buildings and there was an abundance of benches for students to enjoy the outdoors.
The college seemed to offer everything an incoming freshman would need. The library was immense, computers were everywhere, and two stores sold everything from books and clothes to snacks and dishes. Any sport imaginable was offered, either through intramural or intercollegiate competition.
The residence halls included a variety of choices, from nonsmoking dorms to 24-hour quiet rooms. There was a floor for nontraditional students, one for engineering majors and one for academic scholars.
There were many factors that made me realize this was the place I needed to be. The one overwhelming factor had to be the journalism program and the faculty. I am counting the days until I begin classes. I know they will prepare me for whatever lies ahead - not just academically, but emotionally.
My family means the world to me, but I know it's time to cut the apron strings and become an adult. And I know that SUNY Morrisville is the place where I will make it all happen.
Reviewed in 1996
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.