Crossing A Bridge to a Starless Sky: Scary, Exciting, Depressing – College Can Be Overwhelming

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Christopher Trinh, Staff Writer

For those who are astronomically unaware, the North Star, also known as Polaris, is bright enough to spot from almost any sea. In a dark sky, even when the full moon obscures most of the stars, the North Star is relatively easy to see. That fact has made this star a great help to travelers throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Finding Polaris means you know the direction north.

Justin Lee took a deep breath and looked at the two folders spread out in front of him. He turned on his desk light and the light shined on both of them. To his left was a folder with the name “Pomona College,” a private liberal arts college located in California, awarded the title “best college” in America, according to Forbes.

To his right lay a folder with the name “Brown University.” Located in nearby Rhode Island, Brown was a proud member of the Ivy League research schools. It had an esteemed reputation to its name, even larger than Pomona’s, and is one of the best universities in America, as is fitting of all the Ivy League schools.

Justin sat down and pondered some more. Which school did he feel was right for him? After a while, deciding to sleep off the decision for the night, he closed both folders and turned off his desk light. He walked over to his calendar and checked off the day,  April 28th. Three days left to choose. “It’s not like this is the biggest decision of my life,” Justin thought as he tucked himself into bed.

“This is the biggest decision of my life,” Cindy Peraza said to herself, astounded with the amount of choices she had. She looked at the number of names that lay before her: Emmanuel College, Boston University, University of Massachusetts at Boston, Wellesley College, Arcadia University, and Drexel University. There was nothing wrong with any of the schools. Each one of them was a great school in its own respect, with something unique to distinguish each one apart from the other, but with so many options, came a rather difficult choice. After all, choosing an institution to attend for the next four years of someone’s life is already a difficult enough decision by itself, but the decision becomes more stressful when students consider how much each school costs to attend in the first place. Cindy once again examined each school’s name and sighed before turning off her desk light, going over to her window, and taking a look at the starless sky.

Polaris is especially interesting because of how it is located in a position that makes it relatively easy to locate. The best method for finding the North Star is by finding the “Big Dipper,” a seven-star constellation. The shape of the Big Dipper is most commonly compared to a saucepan. Locating the two “pointer” stars that are on the edge of the “saucepan” is a key step, as the North Star will always be five times the distance between these two pointers in the direction that they point away from the pan. The cardinal direction of “north” lies directly under this star.

“I want to go to college because I like learning,” Joshua Rondon admitted, a senior who is currently taking AP Physics and AP Calculus.  “Although I haven’t figured out who I am yet completely, I know I love engineering as something I want to learn, even though I’m not good at it yet.  As Megyn Kelly, a Fox News anchor, once said, ‘The key to happiness in life is to do not what you’re good at, but what makes you happy.’” Joshua recounted her humble beginnings as a very successful lawyer, albeit quite an unhappy one, who was dissatisfied with her profession. As a result, she quit and instead found a low paying job in the journalism industry and worked her way up the ladder to the top. “I want to spend my life doing something that I love, so even though it might be difficult now, I know that I need to go to college and work hard so I can become a great engineer,” Joshua remarked.

Similar to Joshua, many students desire to follow their passions after high school through college. While a higher level of education is not mandatory after age 16, many choose to continue their schooling past high school and opt to go at least four years to obtain a bachelor’s degree.

However, financial aid may play a big role in influencing the decision students make about where to go next year, and for Cindy, financial aid was a high priority. “Once I got financial aid offers and everything, it just made sense for me to pick Wellesley,” Cindy stated. “I mean, it’s a great school, and it offered me more money than all the other schools (plus Hillary Clinton is a plus).”

So much thought goes into picking a college to apply to, let alone choosing a college. The type of programs, opportunities, and social aspects available at a school are often overwhelming. Meloee Nazaire chose Emmanuel College as the school where she will spend her next four years, but not before carefully considering every amenity, academic program, and experience that the school had to offer its undergraduates. “I really wanted to go to a small school because I value building a relationship with my professors,” Meloee said, pointing out its undergraduate class size of just a little over 2,000 students.

Emmanuel College is located in Boston and is part of the six-college consortium, Colleges of the Fenway, which includes Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) University, Wheelock College, Simmons College, MassArt and Wentworth.   Students at Emmanuel, via cross registration, can take classes that Emmanuel does not offer, but is offered at one of the other schools in the consortium, which was another valuable aspect of Emmanuel to Meloee.

“Emmanuel has a congressional debate team along with a radio broadcasting team, which really resonate with what I primarily did in high school,” declared Meloee. She took the time to point out how college is helping her shape her aspirations for the future. “As the 2016 Radio Broadcasting Champion under the MA Speech and Debate League, I wanted to go somewhere I could pursue my radio skills,” she stated fondly, excited for her next few years at  Emmanuel.

Of course, sometimes just evaluating a school’s programs and opportunities isn’t enough. Alicia Barry, who was struggling between two equally fantastic schools, mentioned that the “feel” for the school is much more undervalued than it should be by many students.

“So, for me, the deciding factor in choosing my school was how I felt on the campus,” Alicia said. “When it came down to it, I knew that I’d be happiest putting the financial aid (though it was a small difference) aside. I chose the campus that felt like home, and that I talked most about because I knew that meant it was where I wanted to be. After making the decision, I know that I made the right decision because I feel absolutely no regret and no stress.” Alicia will proudly be attending Georgetown University in Washington D.C. for the next four years.

However, the “next year” for some students might not be the typical “two fall and spring semesters” kind of year, at least for Catherine Monroy. When asked about her thoughts about next year, she simply stated:“I feel really good. I’m excited!” With these simple words, she expressed her excitement about attending Boston University on the January Boston-London Program.  

Taking place within the College of General Studies, the January Boston-London program prides itself as the only BU program that allows students to study abroad during their freshmen year. Students enrolled take the fall semester off their freshmen year and begin their freshman year in January with a semester in Boston and then six weeks abroad in London.  They complete their freshmen year in late June. It is an experiential program with opportunities to explore London and the surrounding area in order to provide a more immersive experience for creative and enriching students such as Catherine.

Polaris, also known as Ursae Minoris, the North Star, or the Pole Star, is the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor. It is very close to the north celestial pole, making it the current northern pole star. While it might be difficult to find the first time one searches for it, it is inevitable that once one knows where it is and how to locate it, it becomes, abstractly put, the anchor for the future.

The first day of May, otherwise known as May 1st or National College Decision Day, is a day in which many seniors across the globe await anxiously. For some, May 1st is the day they dread because they have yet to choose a college. For others, May 1st is the day that signifies the beginning of the next course of their life. Many can agree though that once their decision is made and the initial anxiety of the decision is overcome, the prospect of going somewhere new for the next four years of their lives is exciting, to say the least.

“I feel that going away for college, in a way, prepares you for an independent life as an adult afterwards,” Justin mentioned, reflecting on his time living in the same place with the same people for such a long period of his life. “Moving to a faraway school — for me, that would be Pomona College — separates you from the people you are most familiar with and forces you to seek out new friends and mentors. I’m so excited to meet new people from other places and countries and worlds!” Justin said, eager to move to California and explore a new and unfamiliar environment at a highly selective school.

When June 3rd comes to a close, seniors will rush out of the doors and get together with their friends to celebrate finishing their last year of high school, ecstatic about what lies ahead after graduation. After a long day of hanging out and having fun, students will gradually start heading home, relaxing until the day’s end. While they get ready for bed as nightfall arrives, some of them will take the time to look out their windows and glance at the night sky. The lucky ones will notice a unique light in the heavens above, something that wasn’t an airplane, a building, or the moon. Taking a closer look, it will only be a matter of time before they recognize that light…

Polaris.

 

This brief list includes a small number of students and the college each will attend.  This list is not comprehensive.

Student School Location
Andy Alesio UMass Lowell Lowell, Massachusetts
Prisila Alesio Emmanuel College Boston, Massachusetts
Joseline Argueta Suffolk University Boston, Massachusetts
Maxx Anderson University of New Hampshire Durham, New Hampshire
Bruno Antunes Western New England University Springfield, Massachusetts
Alicia Barry Georgetown University Washington D.C.
Alexa Bennett New York University New York, New York
Lori Brizuela Emmanuel College Boston, Massachusetts
Shamim Butt-Garcia Boston University Boston, Massachusetts
Alaina Cataldo Loyola University Baltimore, Maryland
Giuseppe Cincinnato Suffolk University Boston, Massachusetts
Ibraham Danguir Boston University Boston, Massachusetts
Hanaa Dembri MCPHS University Boston, Massachusetts
Courtney DiMarzo Bentley University Waltham, Massachusetts
Jaclynne Dion Saint Anselm College Manchester, New Hampshire
Julia Freni Merrimack College North Andover, Massachusetts
Cheyanne Fullen Providence College Providence, Rhode Island
James Furlong Suffolk University Boston, Massachusetts
Luke Hartnett Mass. Institute of Technology Cambridge, Massachusetts
Ally Hinojosa Assumption College Worcester, Massachusetts
Julie Hurtado Georgetown University Washington D.C.
Lyba Khan Wellesley College Wellesley, Massachusetts
Justin Lee Pomona College Claremont, California
Daniel Leite UMass Amherst Amherst, Massachusetts
Catherine Monroy Boston University Boston, Massachusetts
Meloee Nazaire Emmanuel College Boston, Massachusetts
Angelina Nguyen UMass Lowell Lowell, Massachusetts
Angelisa Nguyen UMass Lowell Lowell, Massachusetts
Duyen Nguyen MCPHS University Boston, Massachusetts
Cindy Peraza Wellesley College Wellesley, Massachusetts
Joshua Rondon Worcester Polytechnic Institute Worcester, Massachusetts
Alyssa Rous UMass Lowell Lowell, Massachusetts
Dhimeter Shosho UMass Amherst Amherst, Massachusetts
Florence Shosho UMass Lowell Lowell, Massachusetts
Jessica Ventura Emmanuel College Boston, Massachusetts