College: The Decision

yale-university-1604157_1280I can remember breezing through junior year and looking ahead to my final year of high school with not a care in the world. Excuse the cliché, but for me, college was still a lifetime away. In the summer preceding my final year in high school I attended the usual circuit of campus visits through the Iowa Private Colleges Week. I started with schools that I was familiar with; some were in the same proximity to me, and others had been the site of summer camps over the years. Regardless of my predisposition of the campus I went into each visit with the same nonchalant attitude.

Fast forward several months and I found myself deeper into my senior year of high school. I now had only months to make a decision that’s gravity surpassed anything I had ever been responsible for in the past. This is the point I realized that this decision would need some careful thought, so I created several decision rules that were important to me. 1) I decided location was very important to me 2) I wanted a smaller liberal arts school 3) I wanted a place that would expose me to new people. These rules are different for everyone I’m sure, but for me they balanced my small-town roots with my desire to expand my horizons quite well.

So with my selection tools established I again began to take campus visits, but this time I carried with me a little bit more purpose.  It was during this time that I stumbled upon Augustana College (Sorry for the plug, but my loyalties run deep). Augustana was the place for me. I remember my first tour of the campus. It was a rainy day that my parents and I explored the Rock Island campus. As we exited the admissions building, Valentine our tour guide, slipped and almost took my mother down with him. The exasperated student quickly recovered and we were on our merry way. Despite the bleak November day rain and the oceans that had accumulated on the sidewalks of the lower quad I couldn’t help but feel a sense of belonging. It sounds cheesy, but it really is the truth. Everybody wants to throw student faculty ratios and scholarship information at you, but most schools look good on paper. In my experience it’s a decision that requires little logic. There is nothing I could point to that explained my decision to choose Augie, but here I sit four years later.

Despite my affection for Augustana I continued to visit other schools. I had an inkling that Augie was my choice, but decided it was best to continue searching and add to my collection of college t-shirts. Fast forward again and the national decision day of May 1st loomed. For me it was easy to declare because I truly felt the next four years at Augustana would be the best thing for me. While I hope my testimonial gives some guidance, just know that decisions like these cannot be made by anybody but you. No coach, parent, teacher, or admission counselor can tell you what to do. It is simply a matter of patience and finding a place that feels right.

Author: Thomas Walker

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