30 Jun

Rachel is often asked why she chose to go to a university so far from home.

Most people are afraid to step outside of their comfort zones, afraid to put distance between the friends they’ve known forever or the families they’ve depended on from adolescence. We are raised in these environments; we know these surroundings and we become comfortable in them. We have our favorite local pizza joints, we know which gas stations offer the best prices, and we recognize at least five people every time we walk into Panera Bread. We don’t want to navigate new roads because we’re afraid of being lost. We don’t want to face the unfamiliar. Rachel too saw in-state schools as a safety zone, but unlike many of her peers, Rachel doesn’t like to be safe.

Rachel is an extremely family oriented person. In fact, she often chooses spending time with her parents and younger brother over hanging out with friends. In an ideal world, she would live close to her family forever. However, college is a stepping stone to your future- it is a time to grow up. Rachel knew that by attending a local school, she would not be given the opportunity to mature and to become her own person- to find her way in life without the guidance of her parents.

In all honesty, Rachel was first drawn to her school of choice because of the weather and its local environment, but when she visited the campus and learned about the school’s academic programs, on campus housing, and opportunities to get involved on campus, she knew that, despite her initial superficial reasoning, she had found a home. Shortly thereafter, Rachel sent in her application and hoped for the best.

Rachel was working when she received a phone call from her mom, and although cell phone use is strictly prohibited in the workplace, something within her told Rachel to answer the call. As she hid in the bathroom of the country club where she was a part-time waitress, Rachel’s mom informed her that an envelope had arrived from her dream school. Rachel had only one question for her- “Small or large.”

“Large,” her mother answered, “and I can see the word congratulations through the envelope.”

As you can imagine, this is exactly what Rachel had hoped for. After work Rachel sped all the way to her mom’s house, stopping intermittently at red-lights, where she took advantage of the opportunity to mass-text her friends with the exciting news. When Rachel finally arrived at her mom’s, she ripped open the package and sorted through its contents- an acceptance letter, a housing brochure, information about the Honors College. Suddenly, Rachel’s future seemed a lot clearer.

After receiving her letter of acceptance Rachel became impatient for her senior year of high school to be over. Previously doubting the existence of “senioritis,” Rachel began to experience the symptoms of this non-curable “disease” that she had only heard about from those who preceded her. Rachel’s friends and coworkers mocked the fact that she talked about her future school nearly 24/7, and frequently asked Rachel to remind them of which school she’d be attending, as if they had somehow forgotten amidst all of her talk. Rachel made plans for the upcoming school year, and dreamed of earning a 4.0, making new friends, and being independent. She bought bedding and matching trash cans, and printed out pictures of her friends and family to decorate her walls. She made lists- there were many lists- of what to pack and what to leave at home, of what classes to take and which to take later on. She visited the school’s Panhellenic website and made the decision to join a sorority. She shopped for clothes to wear during recruitment and researched each sorority thoroughly, until she knew the colors, mascot, and philanthropy of every organization on campus. And eventually, she packed her bags, boarded a plane, and moved hundreds of miles away.

Blah Blah Blah, happy ending right? Well, you’re partly correct…we suppose. But what we know about Rachel’s first few weeks at her new school suggests that, for the most part, Rachel deeply regretted her decision to move so far away.


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