“Why are you going there?”
In my hometown of Akron, Ohio, many high school graduates attend college locally at one of the nearby state schools. Others migrate to the outskirts of the state but remain comfortably and securely within Ohio, and a small few disperse across the country.
In that culture, I was kind of an anomaly in my family’s, friends’, and neighbors’ eyes for choosing to attend Rochester. Since April of my senior year when I made my decision, I’ve faced the question, “Why did you choose Rochester?” from a new, politely bewildered acquaintance every time I’m home.
The question always bothers me a bit; I feel fulfilled and satisfied at Rochester, justified in my decision, and thus, on some level, insulted when others don’t as readily see the purpose of studying here. I usually just say, “I was attracted to the open curriculum and overall strength of the academics,” assuming that the full story isn’t desired or warranted. But there certainly were more factors at play in my decision than a blanket statement about academics.
A decision four years in the making
The full story of why I chose Rochester begins in October 2010. My high school cross country team traveled to Rochester to compete in the McQuaid Jesuit Invitational at the beautiful Genesee Valley Park. The park, near campus and situated along the Genesee River, enthralled me with its watery borders, sprawling meadows, fall foliage, and open skies.
Each fall, we returned to the park to compete in the invitational, and by October 2012, as a high school junior starting to consider collegs, I suddenly took real notice of the renowned, private university right next door to the park. I resolved to schedule a campus visit.
In late July 2013, I officially visited campus for a tour and admissions interview. I fell in love with the traditional, collegiate architecture and atmosphere, and gained invaluable insight through a conversation with one of the assistant directors in Admissions. As a result, I labored thoughtfully over my application and submitted it.
Between my admissions interview and application, I was invited in February 2014 to attend a scholarship event. In March 2014, I attended a three-day event culminating in an interview for the Renaissance & Global Scholarship. I stayed overnight with a current student and got a comprehensive Rochester experience through the combination of program events and witnessing authentic, firsthand accounts of student life. Inspired and invigorated by the ambition and wide range of interests in both the current and prospective students I met, my college decision solidified: I knew I belonged at Rochester.
In April 2014, I enrolled as a member of the Class of 2018. Equally relieved to be done with the application process and eager to embark on my college career, I realized that the process of my decision had entirely been guided by my personal engagement with Rochester. Between visiting and interviewing twice, I was able to understand Rochester as a living, thriving center of diverse interests, learning, endeavors, and friendships.
Really get to know your school
Without these experiences, I still would have appreciated Rochester as a top-ranked research institution that was compatible academically with my constantly evolving interests. However, just reading these facts on a website would not have provided the confidence and fulfillment that personal engagement did.
Despite the confusion I sometimes face at home, my three semesters at Rochester so far have proven that there’s a place for curious, liberal arts students from the Midwest here. In fact, there truly is a place for all backgrounds and interests at a school as unique and energetic as Rochester. I encourage personal engagement with any potential college, but especially at Rochester. The wide range of possibilities for prospective students’ engagement, such as interviews and special events, provide many opportunities to come to know the school.
Enjoy and savor the unfolding of your own journey to a college decision! No matter where you enroll, you will create your own story of choice.