Why you? Why me? Why Illinois? Why the man in the yellow hat? Why Curious George? Why Chipotle, Hillary Clinton?
These are the questions we ask ourselves today.
Well, potential wildkittens (yes, this is meant just for prospective students, so if you’re reading this and you go here, go study for midterms), we begin our story with a young girl from California. A young girl who, like many young girls, had no idea what she was doing, but knew she wanted to go to a good college. So she did the things she had to do. She sat through that SAT. She ate those APs. She even took the last can of who hash.
And when April of senior year rolled around and the college acceptances made her heart smile (despite the rejections haHA), she was to make the decision that would determine her destiny. What team? The immediate answer was not, alas, “Wildcats,” in this case. The immediate answer was a horrid bout of indecision that led her to lead a life of brochure-reading and internet-viewing, with no hope for tomorrow.
This pattern continued for many weeks of schlumpy second-semester school days until it was the last week of April. Time was almost up! And she had only narrowed her decision down to three schools, two of which were comfortably in her home state (and only charged in-state tuition, I might add).
What was it going to be?
Young friends, it’s strange to look back on this decision now, now that I’m a sophomore in the wondrous era of college that is the focus of everything in high school. When you’re a high school senior who has waited until the last week of April to make the decision of which college to attend, the world quite literally feels like it’s on your shoulders. You are paralyzed with a kind of climactic fear that everything you have EVER DONE has led to THIS MOMENT.
Where will your life take you? The choice is in your own hands, which grow smaller as both the decision deadline and Donald Trump’s nomination loom closer. “You can do it, just know that I believe,” Gabriella Montez sings to you across a spirited basketball stadium. And you, Troy Bolton, feel the pressure.
And so, in a way, it’s a letdown when I have to tell you what I’m about to tell you. Young kitten (maybe?), you are making a decision that, yes, will impact your life. But chances are, the various choices you’re looking at will all provide you with something lovely: a four-year experience that will give you the people, passion and purpose you need to spring into the strange experience we call life. You’re going to be okay, no matter what. And as true as it is that you may study different things at different schools, meet different people and find different interests, you’ll still, through it all, be the same you.
We’re talking about the you who fought through those hellish nights of projects and papers and essays and exams. We’re talking about the you who actually read that book, thank you very much. The you who went the extra mile on that thing you like to do. The you who lived to tell the tale, even if you don’t have a thunderbolt scar.
Do you really think all that is going to go away when you head off to some undetermined location in the fall?
Reality check: It’s not. Your character, work ethic and personality are largely going to determine where you go in life, no matter what leaf-covered campus your parents shed a tear on when they bid you farewell. So let’s not be over-dramatic.
Why Northwestern? Well, when I decided at four in the morning on Thursday, April 24, 2014, that I was headed to the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, it was largely because I wanted to take a risk. I had been to the Midwest only once, and I’d never really thought I’d actually dive deep into journalism. I had applied to NU, really, on a whim, just one of 16 schools to which I’d sent my life’s credentials. But at the end of April, something about it called my consonant name.
When it comes down to it, friends, I was ready to throw myself out there, both academically and geographically. "Let’s try this whole journalism thing," I said to myself as I looked for winter coats for the first time.
So I did. And two years later, why Northwestern, for real? Because this place is a crazy, homey bubble where you’ll meet people who are just as motivated and nerdy and inspired by obscure pop culture references as you are. Because there’s a place for you to go all out – both academically and on the dance floor. Because you haven’t experienced the real cold yet. Because you need the types of best friends I’ve met in class and in the dining hall and stalking the marching band. Because you love life in a strange, intellectual way, and you need to be surrounded by others like you.
Because you could go anywhere in your decision pool and be okay, but here is where you’re best. Because when the clock is running down and they holler, “What team?”, you know what you need to say back. You know it deep in your soul, just like you know why you did that thing you like to do back in high school. Just like you know why Hillary Clinton chose Chipotle.
WILDCATS, dear wildkitten. Welcome. And if not, that’s okay. Just get’cha hearts in the game.
Watch The Northwestern Video below.