Lessons Learned Freshman Year: School Choice

Since writing the first post in the Conservatory Rejection Letters series approximately two weeks ago, something good has happened to me! I was accepted into Cleveland State University to study Pre-Music. From there, I will work closely with the University faculty in order to begin my major, whichever I may choose. I am actually thinking about triple majoring (of course, my mom thinks that is a bad idea) in Education, Performance, and Therapy. If my BW music credits don’t transfer correctly (the Pacific Ocean will freeze over before I re-take Intro to Music Therapy), then I’ll just do Music Education/Performance and go back to BW for Post-Bac.

I’m really excited, and not even in an I-guess-I’ll-learn-to-be-happy-here-because-I-have-no-choice kind of way. I actually think I’ll be more happy at CSU than at BW, if I’m being honest.

06.When I first started applying to college (almost two years ago!), I had very specific criteria: big school, in or near the city, DI athletics (preferably with a gymnastics club or easy-to-make cheer team, but I’ve accepted that my athletic days are over and instead will look for an adult gym class), top-notch journalism and music departments (because I originally wanted to double major in Journalism and Voice), and not necessarily a party school (but, you know, a couple places to get a little turnt… or lit… whatever the kids are saying these days).

At that time, my dream school was Northwestern University. It was actually my dream school all throughout high school, tbh, but that’s not important because long story short, I wasted over a hundred dollars on that school. $75 just to apply. And then an additional whatever-amount-of-money on retaking the ACT. And then still got rejected. Shockingly, I wasn’t even upset about being rejected by my dream school; I was just bitter that I slaved at my job just to get rejected.

Anyway. So, you already know that I ended up picking Baldwin Wallace. The funny thing is, BW didn’t actually meet most of my criteria. It is a very small school (about 4,000 students), it is definitely not in the city (but it is in close proximity to Cleveland), we’re a DIII school (which didn’t really affect me, so I didn’t care), no Journalism major (but obviously a very top-notch music program… which I also wasted $75 trying to get into. I need to stop spending $75 on things), but thankfully not a party school (with a couple places to get turnt).

I liked Baldwin; I really did. I should actually stop using past tense because I gotta go back in the fall. But looking back, I don’t think I was very happy there. I’m lucky that I had a car to go to Parma, North Royalton, Strongsville, and Cleveland every once in a while, because I would have felt so isolated if I had no means of leaving campus. It was just too small for me; if it was warm out, I could visit the parks or go hiking, and that was always quite refreshing. However, there weren’t a lot of places to eat besides the dining hall (well, that a college student could afford). And mostly, I didn’t really have anything to do.

Now, I’ll be honest– I brought some of this on myself. I didn’t join any clubs. But then again, I wasn’t really interested in any of them. I mean, I was interested in gospel choir, but for some reason I didn’t do it. I was interested in diving team, but I can’t really swim all that well, so… I’m a little under-qualified. So at the end of the day, the only thing I got involved in was choir, which is a class. I attended a Cleveland Student Music Therapists club meeting second semester, but I wasn’t really an MT major, so there wasn’t much I could contribute.

Basically, due to my lack of involvement on campus, I had a very limited pool of friends. I didn’t really belong in the music department (there is a certain breed of Con kid. First, you have to actually be one; second, most are extroverts). At the same time, I didn’t feel like I belonged in the liberal arts college. I eventually made a few friends who had similar interests, but it took almost the entire year before that.

The second semester was definitely the best. I finally found something to do on the weekends (due to being required to attend 12 concerts and recitals). I actually started to really like my college. However, after my lackluster audition, it became apparent that I could settle for a degree I didn’t want, or try again somewhere new. Because while I am sad that I will have to leave BW, I settled for more than just a non-music major. I settled for something safe.

I settled for a school my parents wanted me to go to (even though they made it clear they would support any decision I made, they really wanted me to pick BW). In fact, I didn’t really even visit any other schools, save for Wittenberg. When I visited BW, I wrote in my journal:

I really liked the faculty and the Conservatory, but it wasn’t a love-at-first-sight type deal. Will I ever experience that? Either way, it’s likely that I’ll commit to BW. We’ll see what happens, though.

I actually ran out of time deciding where to go for college. I literally committed on April 30th. Now, I was pretty sure I’d pick the school pretty much right after I visited. But I wonder how I would have felt if I’d been to Cleveland State.

I didn’t even bother applying because CSU didn’t have a Journalism major (and I had no idea they had a Music Therapy program). But I’m so glad I’ll be there in the Spring.

I’m not settling– I get to study what I love there, and they actually want me for it! It’s located in downtown Cleveland, all of the dormitories are air-conditioned and apartment-style (BW has some dorms like that– incoming freshmen, request Davidson Commons… can’t stress that enough), and it’s literally right next to Playhouse Square. I can keep my job in Parma. Plus, on a more sentimental note, I can always visit Baldwin Wallace if I want to.

Baldwin Wallace was not the right school for me, but that doesn’t mean I won’t miss it. Though few, I do have friends there. I’ll miss seeing them in class. I’ll miss attending jazztet concerts. I won’t miss all-nighters in MACS, but I will miss the vending machines in there. I’ll miss the nice ladies working at Lang. I’ll miss the proximity to Coe Lake. Luckily, I won’t have to miss Cru (they have it at CSU). I’ll miss studying in Ritter. I’ll miss studying in the BMAC student lounge.

However, I know that I will be happier at Cleveland State. Not only will my personal college experience be greater, but I will graduate with the credentials to succeed in a field I truly enjoy. Besides, like I said, I’m going to end up doing Post-Bac or grad school at BW anyway, so it’s not a goodbye forever.

So, what is the moral of the story?

Apply to a college you love. Don’t worry if it doesn’t have a specific major. Don’t worry about what your family will think. Don’t settle for a school that doesn’t meet your personal criteria, because you likely won’t be happy there.

Know what you want out of a college, and don’t settle for anything less.

***

DISCLAIMER: It should be noted that I have no beef with Baldwin Wallace University or its faculty. It is a wonderful college that I do not regret attending. Now that I’m mid-yeet, it’s easier to remember the less-than-ideal details about the school. However, there are plenty of good things about it. In fact, if you ever find yourself in Berea, Ohio, give it a visit.

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