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second guessing my college choice-two years later

OleWannabe88OleWannabe88 Registered User Posts: 122 Junior Member
Anyone else have the experience of thinking maybe they didn't make the right college choice after a significant amount of time has passed?

Basically, I my choice came down to two school-Concordia-Moorhead and St. Olaf. St. Olaf was always my first choice, as I'd pretty much been born and bred to go there (Mom, grandma, great-aunt and uncle attended, great-uncle taught philosophy there, high school band director, orchestra director and clarinet teacher attended, clarinet teacher was also teaching there at the time).

I visited Concordia and enjoyed it, and almost made the decision to go there. I liked the clarinet teacher, the professors I met, and I had a great overnight visit. They offered me more scholarship money (music and academic), plus it was about $10,000 a year cheaper than St. Olaf. But I visited St. Olaf again, and it had "the feeling" that people talked about in college searches. I was awarded a music scholarship and a service scholarship, but not as much in total as Concordia.

In retrospect I wonder why I didn't take more time to consider my options. Pretty much as soon as I was awarded the music scholarship from St. Olaf, I sent in my deposit. I didn't really consider how much more I'd be paying in student loans in the future by going, or how much harder I'd be working with less time to relax and try different activities.

Plus, I went in to college with music one of my top priorities, which is why St. Olaf won out. But now I've stepped back from music, and while I still participate, it's less of a priority. I'd like to try some new things, but I don't really have time because I spend so much more time studying (which I know is the main point of college, but still).

I also think I had a pretty romanticized view of St. Olaf, as I was there so much over the years growing up. I went in with a lot of expectations that weren't necessarily met. Their vision has changed so much, and now their goal seems to be competing more with the Ivy League, east coast schools instead of maintaing their identity as a solid, Lutheran school.

I wonder if I chose the school only for me, or if I was also afraid of disappointing people like my mom, my clarinet teacher, and my great-aunt and uncle. The clarinet teacher at Olaf is different now as well, and I honestly don't care for him. I really liked the teacher at Concordia, and would have enjoyed working with him.

I don't know what kind of advice I'm even looking for. Chances of transferring are pretty slim, as I probably wouldn't be eligible for any scholarships now (music scholarships are only for first years, and my college GPA is low enough that I probably wouldn't be eligible for any transfer academic scholarships.) I guess it would just be nice to know that I'm not the only one who's ever wondered if they made the right choice.
Post edited by OleWannabe88 on

Replies to: second guessing my college choice-two years later

  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 25,323 Senior Member
    Just about everyone wonders if they made the right choice. My old college roommate and I used to go to the library there and read the course catalogues of other colleges and talk about where we'd transfer to (we never did, but it made us feel better to imagine our options). At the end of my senior year I met a woman who had recently graduated from another college in a different part of the country who was wandering around my college campus and imagining what her life would have been like had she chosen my college over the one she attended. That was a really odd experience, she toured the dorms, classrooms, and everything!

    One suggestion that I have for you, is that you look long and hard at your financial situation and work out how you can afford to take a year off. Maybe you just want to work for a year. Maybe you want to spend it as a "guest junior" at a public university in your home state if the credits will transfer to St. Olaf. What about an exchange semester (or year) at Luther or Augustana? This would give you a different perspective on St. Olaf. If you choose the other school with care, perhaps you could make it a permanent transfer if one year there goes well.

    The biggest regret I have about my undergraduate experience is that I let my financial issues keep me on the 4-year plan. I really truly needed to have that junior year off or elsewhere. I should have just taken the time and worried about the loans coming due later. Two of my classmates at that hideously expensive LAC did take junior years "away". One came back after a year at her home state public university, the other transfered permanently to her home state public university. Thirty years down the road, no one asks why the one who never came back didn't. She has had a very full, rich, and successful life as a graduate of no-name-public-u. If you are really miserable at St. Olaf, maybe her life should be the model you consider.

    Wishing you all the very best.
  • fatladysingsfatladysings Registered User Posts: 111 Junior Member
    You can only make a decision that is right for a given moment in time. You made the absolute right decision given what you knew at the time. And it's probably still a great place for you to be. You can look back and wonder whether what you did was right, or you can move forward and make St. Olaf the right place for the new version of you. This is not the last time this will happen in your life. Regretting past decisions makes it difficult to focus on what you actually have control over . Fix what you can; learn from what you can't. As a friend of mine says, "It all works out in the end. If it hasn't worked out, it's not the end."
  • DunninLADunninLA Registered User Posts: 4,271 Senior Member
    I agree with fatlady. A good life lesson here (applies to marriage, career, avocations, etc.) is to make the most of the situation in which you find yourself. Maximize the present opportunity. It is common for people to change circumstances expecting to be happier, and finding they're not. They have addressed surface issues, and not core issues.
  • OleWannabe88OleWannabe88 Registered User Posts: 122 Junior Member
    Thanks guys.

    In general, I've been happy at Olaf. The money isn't an impossible factor (if it was, my parents wouldn't have let me go there in the first place), I just know I'll be paying off student loans for a LONG time. I'm playing in the band, doing relatively well with classes, and have some good friends. The thing that's lacking is that I never found that "group" that people talk about, meeting their best friends for life in their freshman year. I have more sporadic friends that don't really gel with each other.
    This whole thought process started this weekend because I went to a family grad party and was able to talk to my 2nd cousin, who is the only relative I have near my age. She goes to Concordia, and it makes me sad that we haven't developed a relationship over the years. I started wondering what would have happened if we'd gone to the same college. Again with the what-ifs, but I suspect that we could have become good friends if I'd gone up there. Then that thought led to everything else, that in retrospect Concordia seems like it would have been the better choice for me. Plus, the atmosphere of Olaf didn't turn out to be the "down-home Lutheranism" that I expected and was rather hoping for, whereas Concordia still maintains that.
    Sorry I sound so whiny, but I do appreciate the advice.
  • fatladysingsfatladysings Registered User Posts: 111 Junior Member
    You have no way of knowing if anything would have been different at Concordia. Just because someone else thinks it's a great place, doesn't mean you would have. And just because you're not going to school with your cousin doesn't mean there won't be other opportunities to get to know her. If you put as much energy into figuring out how to make your current experience better and more satisfying, it would probably become better and more satisfying. For example, you might find that there are a few people who you might like to get to know better (don't wait for years from now when you say, "I wish I had gotten to know ______ better." ) Figure out what you want to have happen and then figure out how you're going to do that. Start small, so you're not quickly overwhelmed by your success :-)
    Only you can make you happy. If you're waiting for someone else to do it for you, they may never get around to it.
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