I had a business trip scheduled to the major city closest to Good University at the beginning of March. I was still stuck in admissions limbo with them, but I contacted some professors I thought I’d like to work with and asked if I could come in and talk to them anyway. They said yes, and I booked my tickets such that I had a couple of extra days in the area.
Before I visited, I’d said: “If I get accepted to GoodU, I’ll go there.” And why not? I’d visited before, and I liked the area. It was a highly ranked chemistry program. The town had everything my family needed to live happily, unlike some places I’d applied to.
Throughout my visit, I felt uncomfortable. Walking around, I felt a bit out of place. The first professor I talked to was incredibly friendly. I liked him; I just felt uneasy about something. The second professor I talked to wasn’t so friendly: combative might be a better word. I actually enjoyed standing up to him and arguing my case (and at the end, he admitted that he was impressed by me). But I still felt uneasy. I didn’t understand the feelings I was having about this university.
That night, I had dinner with my sister Chrissy. She told me:
Look. You can weigh all the factors you want, make a spreadsheet and all. But in the end, your decision is going to have to come from your gut.
I knew then what my gut was telling me about GoodU. I would never fit in there. And if they admitted me–which they did, a couple of weeks later–I couldn’t go.
Later, I visited MyU (I can call it that, now that I know I’m going there). I felt like I fit in right from the beginning. I liked all the professors, and one I really, really clicked with. Sitting in his office as he described his work, I got a sudden feeling that this research was what I was made to do. I felt at home.
My last school visit was to MountainU. I loved the town (though it had issues that would affect my family); I absolutely loved the professor I’d wanted to work with for months. And I don’t think I’d be too out of line if I say he took to me at once, too. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that it was the wrong place to be.
When I got home, I knew that MountainU was the wrong place to be. It still took me a week or two to come to grips with the decision, and I admit that I cried as I wrote the email to turn down their offer. But I knew that it was the right thing to do, and as soon as I’d done it I felt at peace about my decision.
I followed my sister’s advice to pay heed to my gut feelings, and it led me to a school I almost didn’t apply to in the first place. I can’t say for sure how things will turn out for me in the long run, but I do know that I chose the only school where I felt at home. I’m glad I listened to my sister.