by Erica.

“If I ever go to Texas of all places for college, someone, please shoot me”

–me in August 2015, 8 months before accepting my offer of admission to the University of Texas

On my list of eleven colleges to apply to, arranged by “likelihood of me actually wanting to go there,” UT Austin was ninth. It was one of those schools that I pulled off of a “Top Civil Engineering schools” ranking and slapped onto my list, as a “just in case something weird happens and I completely reevaluate what I want in life”. I already had my heart set on other schools. UT was just a placeholder.

But here I am.

I came quite close to not even applying to UT. It was December 1, the very last day to apply, and my essays weren’t done yet. Procrastination, as usual, had gotten best of me, and I didn’t feel like writing. “What was the use?” I asked myself. Weighing the cost against the likelihood of me actually attending, I nearly convinced myself to spend my time on other things. But I applied anyway.

And due to some very lucky timing, it became the school that I fell in love with. Maybe it was only because it was the first school that I got accepted into, and maybe it was only because I had just been deferred from my “dream” school days earlier and I was still trying to find ways to cope, but I started seriously considering it.

And I’m glad I did.

The more I researched this school, the quicker it moved from an ‘okay’ to ‘decent’ option; but I had my heart set on going to college somewhere with four seasons. The more I read about Austin, the more it seemed like a fun place to be; but I wanted to go to school in a small city. UT seemed like a good school, just not what I was particularly looking for.

But yearning for some kind of adventure, I gave it a shot. By March, I was in Austin, legitimately considering this school as a viable college option. Maybe it was the great BBQ, or maybe it was the number of Chick-fil-As in close proximity (two on campus and one a couple blocks away), or maybe it was the massive football stadium, but I liked it there.

(I really liked it.)

But it was the first college I had visited in several months. Not wanting to jump the gun, I convinced myself it was only a mediocre option at best, and for the entire month of April, I tried to pretend UT didn’t exist. I went to Cornell and went bowling and mixed concrete and stayed in a dorm that looked like a castle. I went to Illinois and ate burgers on the quad and sat in on a Theoretical Applied Mechanics class and fell in love with the red-brick campus. I looked into other schools, applied to other programs, and tried to make a well-informed, calm, rational decision.

Key word: tried. My actual college decision resulted in a few mental breakdowns and a few existential crises and a few “I’m actually just going to choose a college by picking a name out of a hat” phases. April dragged by, clawing its way through every remaining piece of my sanity. But somehow, while groping blindly around the myriad of different factors (including location, quality of engineering school, $$$, and mascot), I soon realized that UT was the college I was the most calm and content with attending. So a week before decision day, the night I got home from Illinois, I bit the bullet, paid the $200, and accepted my offer of admission.

So here I am—after spending my entire high school career planning to go to college on the West Coast, East Coast, or in the Midwest, I’m going to college in the South instead. And maybe this whole college application process didn’t go exactly how I had meticulously planned it to go–but it looks like everything is going to turn out fine after all.

Catch us blogging from Texas this fall.

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