I am an indecisive person. I am that person who looks up a restaurant menu beforehand so I am not flustered when it’s time to order. I’m also that person who still texts her mom, asking her to tell me which color of dress I should buy, if I should walk or ride my bike to class, or if I should study or spend the afternoon in Santa Monica. You get the picture.
This personal challenge of indecisiveness was put to the ultimate test during the college admissions process. If the shear amount of college choices and my ever wavering career aspirations weren’t enough, I collided with an indecisive person’s ultimate demise: Early Decision. For those who aren’t familiar, Early Decision is a binding agreement between the applicant and a college where you agree to attend if they offer admission. If accepted, all applications to other colleges must be withdrawn.
I remember feeling pressure to go this route because of all the “chatter” about how applying ED shows one’s commitment and interest in a particular college and increases your chances of being accepted to a highly selective school. I will admit that knowing exactly where I was going to college almost 4 months before most of my peers was enticing. Not gonna lie, I wanted closure before I had even started. Get it done, escape, and move on! A girl could dream.
Even when I ended up not applying ED, I went through this period of doubt and regret, questioning if I should have just gone through with it. For many of you that may be feeling the same way right now, I am here to give you some comfort!! Although I was apprehensive about my decision to not to apply ED, I am extremely thankful that I did not go this route because if I had, I might never have found USC!
USC was barely on my radar and I had not visited campus prior to being admitted! As a high school senior, my every day life was dynamic. It is still hard enough for me to plan what I want to do this coming weekend nevertheless for the next four years of my young adult life. The idea of being “locked in” to my college decision worried me. Even though I felt like my whole life had been building to this moment, I still needed more time to figure out what I wanted in a school.
My ability to prioritize my values and decide what I really wanted in a college experience (strong academics, a biomedical engineering program, football, Greek life, and access to a vibrant city like Los Angeles) did not come to fruition until April of my senior year! In fact, the final schools I was deciding between in April were near the middle or not even on my college list in the early fall of my senior year. Honestly, this freaked me out!
I remember cringing as I saw schools creep higher and higher up on my list. I remember in my mind this little voice screaming because I thought this change meant that I was doing something wrong, that I was failing. The feeling of being out of control and not being 100% sure was something that really worried me. Really, this was just the ~process at work~ (cheesy but take it as you will). I think this shift in thinking came from the new perspective I gained from being able to visit schools as an admitted student. While visiting the school prior to admission is beneficial, when I visited as an admitted student, I feel like I really got a better vibe because I could actually envision myself living and working there instead of a hypothetical version of myself. I remember walking around campus thinking, would I study under that palm tree? What would become my normal running route? Would I get coffee at RTH with her? What would a football Saturday be like? Could that cute boy on the skateboard become my boyfriend? 😉
Through this process I also realized it’s ok not to know what you want! The process is A PROCESS for a reason! It is ok if it takes you the whole journey to find where you belong. I was apprehensive to go ED because I think that my senior fall self was much different than my senior spring self. For me, this was the best choice because I found that I was leaning to go ED not because I really wanted to, but out of fear that this was what I needed to do to get into certain selective schools.
The bottom line is make sure if you are thinking about ED that you evaluate what your motives are for the decision. If you are only going ED out of fear of elimination I suggest that you hold off and explore your options. Embrace the change and uncertainty. Just like me, you might find that your dream school is hidden under a bit of research. Have some faith in the journey and enjoy the process.