When I was a high school senior, I thought I wanted to go to a school in a big city. I ended up in a school in rural western Mass. And I absolutely love it. I go to New York and Boston a few times a semester, and I do wonder what it would have been like. But I think my decision was the most fitting one for me.
One of my friends is trying to decide between a liberal arts school near Boston and a university in the heart of New York. He wasn’t sure if he should choose a school in NYC, a city he loved with a great startup scene, or a school near Boston, where he could focus on academics and enjoy just being a student. He sent a message to a few friends, and asked for our advice. Here’s an excerpt of mine:
You’re right, this is a difficult decision. And it depends on why you want to go to college at all and what you value in a college experience. It depends on if you want to change, and how you want to change. If you’re comfortable being uncomfortable. If you want to be surrounded by people who are very different from you in their background and upbringing, if you want to be challenged and changed, in your values and beliefs, by these different perspectives. And if you are open to change, one place will change you more than the other in a certain way, another in a different way. It depends on what kind of change you want. Your decision will impact your life because you let it, because your decision will impact you and who you become.
I know how you feel, my senior year of high school, I wanted to grow up. I wanted to be a part of the industry and be a student on a side. I went to tech events in Palo Alto and SF any chance I got. It’s how I met a great community here. When it came time to decide, I knew I couldn’t be just another person from my high school who went to the same three schools, where I’d already know a quite a few people. What I wanted out of college was to meet people from other places and backgrounds, to prove to myself that if I could move across the country for college, working abroad would be an easy choice. I eliminated my options that were too close for comfort, and started looking at my other choices. I was also in love with New York and big cities in general, and I thought if I went to school in a city, I could grow up. But then I wondered what it would be like to go to a small college in the middle of nowhere. Maybe there I wouldn’t just grow up. Maybe I’d grow sideways, and grow down, and grow up, and grow sideways again, and grow in ways that I forget what is up and what is down, but by the end of it, I’ll think I grew up. And then I’d graduate and my friends and I would all move to Boston or New York to grow up again. And I liked the sound of that, of putting myself in a curious place and inviting to be disoriented and disrupted. So that’s my plan.