I had no idea where to go to college.
I always knew I’d go. Most of my relatives had gone, my parents talked about me going, and all my friends planned to go, so I never really thought twice about it. I wasn’t terribly excited about four more years of school, but I knew getting a degree was a smart option and, in all honesty, I wanted people to know I was intelligent and capable of getting a degree.
That said, I didn’t care all that much about where I went. I just wanted to get it over with.
My dad’s rule was that each of us had to finish two years of community college and then we could transfer wherever we wanted from there. That allowed me to put off my final college decision for two more years, but even as admissions deadlines approached for my third year, I was still conflicted.
In the back of my mind, I always thought I’d just choose one of the state schools in Minnesota because they were cheaper than the private schools and I didn’t have a strong opinion about what kind of school I attended. It was just school. I had never enjoyed it before and all of them were going to get me the same degree in the end, so I figured I might as well get that degree as inexpensively as I could!
I also thought I’d choose a school where I already had at least one friend; this was my one requirement.
I diligently researched all the most affordable schools in Minnesota and wasn’t excited about any of them. I even expanded my search a little and still didn’t find any schools that sounded particularly interesting. I had pretty much just accepted that I was going to have to spend two years of my life at a place I didn’t necessarily love, and I was leaning toward the cheapest school in Minnesota because…it was the cheapest school in Minnesota. Seemed like the most logical choice!
One day when my mom and I were running errands, she casually mentioned that someone she knew had a daughter who’d just transferred to this school in Florida that was halfway between Disney World and the beach.
Okay, now my ears perked up. I was still not planning to leave the state for college – no way! – but this was the kind of place that piqued my interest. I love Disney, and I love the beach. If the school would’ve been 2,000 miles closer, I would have been all in.
My mind was made up, but my curiosity remained. As the weeks went on, my mom kept bringing up this school, and she finally asked if I wanted to visit it. I was still adamantly against leaving my home state for school, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to look somewhere else if it involved a trip to sunny Florida. 😉 My parents knew I was more excited about a Magic Kingdom visit than a college visit, but they really thought I should consider this school.
So I found myself on a guided tour around Southeastern University, walking in 75-degree weather past rows of palm trees and tile-roofed stucco buildings. The campus was beautiful, small enough for me not to get totally lost…and, as mentioned, close to Disney. 😁
For once I could actually picture myself kind of liking a college. It was sunny and welcoming, not cold and gray like all the other schools I’d toured back home. Everything had been recently built or remodeled, so there would be no run-down dorm living here. Everybody seemed happier compared to the faces I’d seen at the other places I’d visited. And it was really nice to not walk through a cloud of secondhand smoke everywhere like I had at my previous school.
As I drove away after my tour that day, I remember looking out the window and telling myself, This is the last time I’ll ever see this place…and yet, I had a feeling I’d be back.
And I was.
Shortly after my visit, the application deadline for Southeastern was looming and I decided it was now or never. It couldn’t hurt to just apply, even if I had no intention of going. So I applied.
And then I realized there was nowhere else I wanted to apply. The very idea made me feel bored. Unmotivated. Unenthused.
So I held off applying anywhere else for the time being as I awaited my acceptance letter from SEU.
It finally came. I read over every detail, pored over the school’s website, and tried to find any negative thing I could about this place. There wasn’t much to be found, other than the fact that it was 2,000 miles from home and my plan. Everything about this place was positive. It would even cost me less than any school in my home state, travel included!
Oh, and I had my one required friend! I got connected with a girl from my home church (whose mom had told my mom about the school), and I knew I’d have at least one familiar face on campus if I chose to attend there.
So, ultimately, I took a deep breath and decided to take the plunge. Though this had never been a part of my plan – or even close – it felt like the right option. It was the only school that seemed to “fit,” even though I didn’t really want it to! 😊 I turned in my acceptance letter and I felt…peace.
I was moving to Florida.
And that, ladies and gentleman, is how I chose Southeastern University.