Firstly, it’s freezing. I know it’s still a bit early in fall but I’m already freezing. Walking through Eastman Quad, I’m wondering, “Why New York? Why Rochester, New York? Have you ever even been this far north? You’re from the islands—what are you doing here? But it’s such a beautiful campus. There are so many trees! So many nice people! Why are there so many nice people? It’s hot. My advisor is so caring and so are all my teachers. Wow, I’m in love.”
Those were my first thoughts, conceptions, and ideas about the University of Rochester. These thoughts, however, will be the most special for the next four years here in Rochester. They will be the thoughts of someone who, despite the odds, had her goal set on a school that represented the same values that were instilled by her parents: the characteristics of freedom of expression and the eternal desire for improvement. In May 2020 when I look to the past, I’ll see someone who saw a connection between the person she wanted to be and an institution that facilitated this, and I will be glad that my first thoughts about the school I wanted to attend were all about University of Rochester.
Why I chose Early Decision
I choose Early Decision based on the reasoning of my college advisor, Mrs. Sandra Bramwell. I expressed to her that I was someone who wanted to create a new vision for my home country Jamaica, as well as continually improve myself in the process. On a long list of schools, she starred Rochester, as she thought we were made for each other. After considering all the other schools, I choose Rochester as my first choice. Maybe it was the open curriculum, maybe it was the emphasis on doing other activities besides studying, eating, and sleeping. Maybe it was the school spirit. (GO, YOU JACKETS!) Maybe it was even the number of international students ensuring a mixture of new cultures and perspectives. Truthfully, I think it was the unlimited meal swipes and a combination of all these aforementioned features. One month in, I completely agree with my decision. I’m in love with Meliora (Ever Better!).
The choice between the words “Decision” and “Action” or even just the thought of “EARLY” was extremely daunting in the beginning. My first focus with going to school in the US, leaving my small but exhilarating beauty of an island behind, was ensuring I could afford it. I was scared that I was going to commit all my efforts and time to a school that I might not even be able to afford. I was scared they wouldn’t even accept me in the first place; “fear” is a small but powerful word. Soon I would learn that while financial aid was important, the fear that it cast on my decision was debilitating. It should be secondary to my thoughts on what the school represented and how it could help me achieve my goals.
How to take a leap
Here begins the first of many lessons Rochester would teach me: how to take a leap. A longer statement than “fear,” but just as powerful. Currently, I am taking History of Technology, French, biology, and organic chemistry. While biology and chemistry are not anything novel for me, it’s the history and French classes that really surprise me; I had not studied either subject since the ninth grade. I was terrible at French and I was tired of regular history, but somehow this institution, this hub for innovation, got me to take, excel in, and thoroughly enjoy these courses. Aside from academics, I’ve tried rugby, boxing, new foods, learned the names of sooooo many people, and I even started to find some friends.
I know you expect me to continue with a list of lessons, but that’s as far as I have gotten. It’s only been a month. Come on, guys!
Je suis stresseé, mais je suis trés heureux. I am stressed but I am very happy. I am this happy because I know why I wanted to come here. The key to beating the fear of Early Decision is to take a leap, but an educated leap. I am only this happy because I chose a school that was the right fit for me. This is not a plug for Rochester. This lesson can be applied to any student studying any subject at any institution. Early Decision is only there to ensure that schools accept and enroll students that want to be there. We only want you here if you believe the best version of yourself can be discovered here. Yes, you may not know who you’ll become in the next four years, but choose the school that best aligns with your ideals and who you want to become, and that provides an environment conducive for learning for you. No matter the amount of money I receive from a school, it will not make me love it as much as I love a school that is right for me.
Don’t fear Early Decision. Embrace it!
It can really help you decide what school is best for you, even if you don’t know what you are going to study. My last year of high school was still stressful balancing college entrance tests and my Caribbean high school exit exams, but it was also a big relief to know since December 2015 that I would be attending the school of my dreams. I was thrilled . . . family and friends were too . . . and the really soft hoodie they sent me was pretty great too. Like Early Decision, don’t fear the freezing weather. Embrace it! That’s what hoodies are for.