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College search another hurdle

For my generation, the Internet has always been just another part of life. Many of us now in high school even had our own e-mail address when we were third- and fourth-graders. “Snail mail” was only for party invitations and nice thank-you cards. This is not to say that receiving a letter in the mail was not fun. On the contrary, getting real mail has always been a delight.Yet for the last year or so, letters in the mail have lost some of their excitement. This is only because it seems like every day I am receiving at least two or three more letters from colleges and universities throughout the United States to add to my growing stack. The colleges themselves are even aware of this big box of brochures and persuasive papers. Many new letters begin with sentences like, “We know how it is – your mailbox, your kitchen table, and your bedroom floor are littered with letters. … ” or “You are probably swarmed with college brochures. … ” and “If you’re like most students, you are probably being deluged with letters. … “The writers of these letters think they know what I’m going through, but they really have no idea. On top of research papers, challenging math tests, sports and spring fever I have to think about which colleges I want to apply to as well? This task becomes increasingly difficult when there are so many great schools to choose from … so many. Some days I become very overwhelmed with it all. How am I supposed to pick a place for the next phase, and perhaps one of the most important, of my life, when I haven’t even figured myself out yet?When I get in these moods, it helps to remember what high school is really all about. Beyond Friday night football games, broken hearts, driver’s licenses and standardized testing, the true essence of the four years spent in high school is trying new things. High school is not about “defining” who you are as a person, it is more “exploring” who you are. It is all about the ongoing discovery of yourself and the world around you – listening to different types of music, wearing new types of clothes, hanging out with diverse types of people. It is then that you can culminate your experiences and see which direction you want to take for the next part of your life.For me, college is where I am headed after high school. This is not the same for everyone. Yet one thing that will unite all graduates, former and latter, is that the time in our lives that follows commencement is when we are truly on our own. We finally get the chance to make our own decisions in shaping the people that we want to become.I suppose one could say that college is the place to “find yourself.” However, it is my belief that you don’t ever have to completely “define yourself.” People are constantly learning and absorbing new information about their world. If your opinions change, or your perceptions are altered, that’s fine. Nobody remains the same person forever.College is the first step to prod you in the direction of the rest of your life, but it’s also OK if you don’t know exactly what you want to do with it. In fact, many experts say that my generation will have an average of three to five major careers throughout our lifetimes after graduation from college.With all these big thoughts rolling around in my head, it’s comforting to remember that I still have about a year to decide – decide what direction I’m going to take, decide what I might want to do, and decide which university I’m going to pursue this at. The other day, I reached in my overflowing box of letters and randomly pulled out one from Harvard. OK, maybe not, but it’s a start!Cassidy Willey is a junior at Glenwood Springs High School. She writes a column twice a month for the Post Independent.


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