15 Inspiring Stories That Will Help You Make Your College Decision

Because where you spend these four (or more) years of your life is a pretty big deal.

Christina Lu / BuzzFeed

I recently asked BuzzFeed writers how they decided where they went to college. Here are some of their stories.

1. “All of my friends were going to colleges in Florida, and at some point I realized I’d gone to grade school, middle school, high school, and could potentially go to college with the same group of people I’d known since childhood. That would excite a lot of people, but it made me realize that I needed a huge change to really push myself, otherwise I’d likely be stuck in the same spot for a long time. So I applied to schools in Boston, the only other place my parents allowed me to apply, and luckily, I got in!”
Erin LaRosa

2. “I went to a school because I was recruited on a speech team scholarship for a team that, true story, is the most successful extracurricular team ever, in the history of anything (in terms of national championships won). I was super starstruck by this and sort of ignored the fact that I absolutely hated the school. That pretty soon caught up with me, and I ended up sort of freaking out and transferring out after my freshman year to a school in London. Don’t go to a school you absolutely hate just because they are paying you a lot.
Kristin Chirico

3. “I decided to go to Mount Holyoke College because I really liked the campus and got super-good vibes there. The classes were really difficult and intensive, and it seemed like the student body was really intentional, if that makes any sense. You just didn’t end up at Mt. Holyoke by accident. A year later, I began to feel really disenchanted and stifled by being on such a small campus in the middle of nowhere, so I transferred out. I chose Penn in Philly essentially because I loved Philadelphia, and I knew that even if the school was terrible, I’d have other opportunities in the city.”
Julie Gerstein

Photo courtesy Sam Stryker

4. “My choices were to either go to the same school my sister, dad, and two uncles went to in a town swarmed by relatives (there are a lot of formalities and obligations in an Asian family, much as I dig them), or go to a school none of us knew anything about, in a state none of us had visited. My sister told me, “Psssst, don’t go to my college,” so that’s how I decided.”
Kevin Tang

5. “My two older brothers both went to the same university, so my twin and I were fools and only applied to that college. We both got in (yay for luck and nepotism!), but if we didn’t, we’d probably be sharing a cardboard box in some random alleyway. So, yeah, it’s safe to say that my twin and I were incapable of making our own decisions until after college.”
Spencer Althouse

6. “I was choosing between three very different schools, and at the end, I ended up being scared off by a bad class I sat in at Sarah Lawrence, where it was roundtable discussion and I was the only one asking questions. I think it was just the class, and I imagine if I had sat in on a different one, I may have ended up there, except one person said no one went outside in the winter and there was nothing to do and that scared my California heart away. I almost went to USC but it was too close to home and I didn’t want to join a sorority. I went to Fordham mostly to be in NYC and have small classes.”
Chelsea Marshall

Photo courtesy Brad Esposito

7. “I was originally recruited to play soccer, but the summer going into my freshman year the coach got canned and the new one brought in all his own recruits. So, I basically got screwed, but then ended up going to the school anyway since it was only an hour away from home.”
Austin Hunt

8. “In Australia, I went to the first university that accepted me. I won’t go into how complicated and confusing the whole application and marking process is, but safe to say I got the result I deserved after two years of focusing less on education and more on extracurricular activities. After two years there, I tried to get into UC but they wouldn’t accept an international student that was an American citizen. So I ended up at UNC, where my mother went and where my uncle taught, so I guess it was a legacy thing. But really it was basketball and Tar Heels.”
Brad Esposito

9. “My final college decision came down to two very different schools: One was a small college specializing in communications in Boston without much of a campus to speak of, and the other was a bigger, more traditional university. On paper, the school in Boston was perfect for me — I wouldn’t have to take any math classes, I’d study journalism, and it was in a city that I loved. But when I went to visit on admitted students day, something felt kind of off. Just a few days before I was supposed to submit my deposit, I drove up to Syracuse, N.Y., with my dad to check out the other university. It was a beautiful spring day and students filled the quad — granted, most other days in Syracuse are freezing and snowy, but I just had a good feeling the whole time I was there. I could see myself walking around campus just like the other students I was watching, studying a liberal arts curriculum instead of focusing on just one professional major, and calling this place my new home. To this day, choosing to go to Syracuse University is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. There’s something to be said for trusting your instincts and following your gut feeling.
Krystie Yandoli

Photo courtesy Krystie Yandoli

10. “I hate math and science and didn’t want to have to do any in college. There aren’t many schools without core requirements. I picked one. Yay Brown!”
Adam Davis

11. “I was down to two schools, one was in Boston and one was in California. My dad took me to a hockey game and we scored with a few minutes left. As the crowd rose to their feet and the entire stadium went red with spotlights, my dad said, ‘Are you sure you want to leave this?’ I went to school in Boston.”
Mackenzie Kruvant

12. “I applied to four colleges, and I was accepted by all four — three were in-state in Florida and one was a liberal arts college in…Virginia, maybe. I only toured two of those colleges: University of Florida and Florida State University. At this time, I thought I wanted to be an environmental lawyer when I was done with school. A lot of people, mostly my family, thought FSU would make more sense since it’s located in the state’s capital and that’d make sense for someone who wanted to be a lawyer. But UF’s campus was so much greener — there was a much nicer atmosphere than at the other university. I felt like I could breathe a little easier there and that it was maybe only a bit more relaxed; I didn’t care about partying or sports reputations. I wanted to choose a school I would feel the most comfortable attending for four, or more, years. In the end, I’m so glad I picked UF. I never changed my major from journalism, and I never went to law school anyways. I had an amazing time, joined an amazing improv organization, and learned valuable — if somewhat outdated — lessons from working on my school’s newspaper.”
Sami Main

Photo courtesy Sami Main

13. “I went to an open house for the dramatic writing program at NYU and the professor in charge of admissions had this hilariously dark sense of humor so I decided to mega-revise my portfolio and apply early decision. Years later, he became my thesis professor and helped me write my favorite thing I did in college. He also told me he liked me because ‘I’m quiet at first, but once you get to know me, I never shut the fuck up.’ I’ve been inspired ever since!”
Julia Pugachevsky

14. “I was sitting outside of Scripps literally throwing a fit about going in because I didn’t want to take the tour. My mom informed me that I was being insane and that I needed to get out of the car immediately since we had flown all the way to California. Begrudgingly I got out of the car and went on the tour. From the moment I stepped on campus I felt like I was home. There was some sort of magical air filled with orange blossoms and smart women that made me fall in love with everything about Scripps. I ended up applying ED2, got wait-listed, and then finally got in regular decision. I found out I got in while I was driving to a friend’s birthday party. I had to pull the car over because for some unknown reason my reaction was to sob uncontrollably.”
Lili Salzberg

15. “I actually got into what I thought was my DREAM school — a small, liberal arts college in Maine — but also got into the Honors Program at Notre Dame after applying on a whim. Despite how much I wanted to, my parents would not let me turn that down (they were paying the bills, after all), and it was the best wrong decision I ever have made. Most of freshman year was a struggle (a large, Catholic university in Indiana with crazy school spirit was the last thing I wanted), but once I started drinking the Kool-Aid, I was obsessed. Most of the best things in life that have happened to me have been because of going to ND. Basically, don’t sweat your college choice — it sounds so cliche, but it’s not where you go, but what you make of your experience once you are there.
Sam Stryker

Photo courtesy Lili Salzberg

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