Hope’s College Search — Part 1

I first really thought about college when I was a freshman in high school and my sister was a senior. My sister applied and was accepted to Columbia University early decision. Immediately I knew there was absolutely no way I would even consider attending Columbia. I was able to narrow my college options from 4,140 to 4,139. Aside from that, I didn’t start seriously thinking about where I might really fit until my junior year.

By the time junior year rolled around, I was miserably bored in high school. It’s not that the work was too easy—it was plenty difficult. But it was completely uninteresting to me. I had essentially no freedom to pick any of my classes and was thus resentful of every minute I had to spend in the classroom, studying, or doing homework. In an attempt to intellectually rebel against the system, I procrastinated. But not your typical procrastination. I decided to devote an inordinate amount of time to researching alternative education models. I enviously read about Sudbury Valley School, where students have no required classes, and watched documentaries about Singaporean education (and was grateful my environment wasn’t quite so stifling).

This wonderful time sink allowed me to discover some important parts of myself. First, I realized that education from a theoretical perspective is utterly fascinating to me. I wanted to find a college where I could actually get credit for my procrastination. In addition, I solidified my stance that I would not attend a college that was as academically restrictive as my high school. I wanted the flexibility to study a slew of subjects. Finally, I discovered that I wanted a college where the students focused on learning, not on achievement—which, interestingly, are not synonymous.

In hindsight, I’m incredibly grateful for my high school misery. It forced me to really take a look at myself and find out what I needed to satisfy my intellectual interests. As Uncle Frank says in Little Miss Sunshine, “High school—those are your prime suffering years. You don’t get better suffering than that.” Really though, suffering is the gateway to self-discovery. Embrace it and run.

Have any questions for Hope? Email her at hbrinn@thecollegiateblog.com or use in the comment box below.