To Northwestern or not to Northwestern? College senior Lia speaks to high school senior Lia.

It was the fall of my senior year of high school. At 18 years old, I was selecting a college, and, according to my old blog entries, I seemed to have a pretty clear last choice.

On November 28, 2004, I wrote an entry called “To Northwestern or not to Northwestern” – a pro and con list about NU.

Now, as a graduating senior at NU, I look back on my decision to apply.

The original entry is located here, and is included below. If I could talk to 18-year-old Lia now, here’s what I might say.

THEN: High School Lia said… NOW: College Lia says…
Should I apply to Northwestern? I need to decide ASAP. Sure, Lia. Only you would leave a big decision like this up to the seven people who read your blog.
Reasons to apply:

-Great school

This is true.
-I have a fair chance of getting in solely based on legacy Pulling the legacy card, huh?
-Though I don’t want to go there now, I might want to go there later. Famous last words.
Reasons not to apply:

-I don’t want to go there!

Yeah, but tell me how you REALLY feel.
-It’s too close to home But you’ll probably never go home. Except for senior year, when you decide you’re comfortable enough with your social situation and you don’t mind occasionally doing laundry at home.
-It’s too familiar to me Can you name the school’s president? The oldest building on campus?
The health center? Yeah, didn’t think so.
-My brother goes there (so did my dad and grandmother), so it’s nothing new Eventually, they’ll have to put up a statue to honor our family.
-I can name all the buildings and I know my way around the campus already Liar.
-The application is the most annoying thing ever and I won’t be able to recycle any essays for it The application is fun! And think harder – you just might be able to
recycle another school’s essay…
-I don’t want to be in Medill journalism (too rigorous), but if I’m
not then I won’t be able to work on the paper.
False and falser. Medill journalism is a great program for you and
you’ll learn a lot from it – even if you decide not to pursue journalism
as a career. And there are plenty of people at The Daily Northwestern
who aren’t in Medill, anyway.
-I sort of don’t want to know if I would have gotten in or not. If I
did get in, I’d feel obligated to go there since it’s such a great
school. If I didn’t get in, I’d get made fun of (maybe not to my face)
You are such a high schooler.
-I might ruin the chances for all my friends getting in who actually
do want to go there
Don’t be a saint.
Please vote here ASAP. Leave reasons if you can. Way to make your blog readers do all the work for you.

The comments were the best part. Some highlights:

“It seems to me like you don’t want to go but you feel like you have to because your family expects it.”

“Don’t apply, it seems like you think it would only be a waste of time.”

“Don’t bother … I’m doing the application now, and it’s ridiculous.”

“From what I’ve heard, most people don’t grow into their college. If they’re going to like it, they usually like it before they get there.”

“There’s nothing wrong with stealing college spots from other people at your school who want to go more than you. As long as you don’t like them.”

And, then, the one pro-Northwestern comment: “You lazy *** … NU is so much fun, and I’d hate to see you pass up this life-changing experience simply because of personal feelings. Emotions are SO overrated. And, honestly, so what if the app is long? It’s worth it to avoid wasting your life at a not-ranked-eleventh-in-the-nation school.”

So against all odds, against all my friends’ blog comments and my lopsided pro/con list, I sent in my application just before the due date. I got in, felt that magic “accepted” feeling and decided to make it my home for the next four years.

And, yes, four years later, on my final day before graduation from Northwestern, as I think back to the classes I’ve taken and the people I’ve met, the activities I’ve done and the places I’ve been — I’m definitely I’m glad I decided to apply.

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5 thoughts on “To Northwestern or not to Northwestern? College senior Lia speaks to high school senior Lia.

  1. “Eventually, they’ll have to put up a statue to honor our family.”

    Or a rock, perhaps? Time is running out…

  2. I think you should apply. Don’t concern yourself with whether other family members have gone before or difficulty level of applying.

    Rejection shouldn’t scare you. It’s a big part of life, and it will recur frequently–sometimes for good reasons and sometimes for misguided ones. Learn to roll with the punches. And, if you get in, you’ll have the opportunity to go to a great school!

    As for Medill being too rigorous, maybe this is the time to rise to the challenge of a rigorous program. Many heroes didn’t set out to be heroes; they only faced the circumstances to which they were exposed and made a split-second decision. Granted, you’re not setting out to college (wherever) to become a hero. But, neither are most heroes intending to be in a position of heroism. People are capable of accomplishing much more than they imagine. Push yourself to the limit, and then give a little extra. That’s the way you really excel (it’s analogous to how one exercises successfully).

    As for ruining chances for friends who want to get in, you never really know what the admission standards/quotas are, and you need to find the best college for *you*. As I said earlier, rejections happen…for you, for them… Take care of your own needs first, and then you can be a better friend in the long run.

    Whatever decision you make, best of luck, and keep in touch!

    Oops, I’m a few years late. I didn’t know about the blog when the vote was relevant.

  3. Mazel tov! You did make a good choice and you have a great rest of the week ahead to savor the last bits. Plus, Wynton Marsalis should kick major ass….especially compared to last year 😉

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