A stack of college books, over twenty visits to schools up and down the east coast, and a final pro-and-con sheet between the last two contenders: that’s how I chose UD.
I’m the oldest child in my family, which translates into: “My parents had no idea what I needed to do to apply to school.” As a result, they went for the super-over-prepared route, which, in retrospect, was honestly a lot better than the alternative. As early as my junior year of high school, I was so ready for the next step, a fresh start, a new location. I would sit by the window in my house’s office, covered with at least two sweatshirts and the warmest available blanket (ah, the wonderful weather of Connecticut), and would look out at the barren wintertime woods – all the while rifling through college books like The Best 368 Colleges or the Fiske Guide to Colleges. I purposely would bookmark all the warmer college locations at my fingertips; my number one requirement was getting away from the cold.
As parents dealing with the college process for the first time, my mom and dad thought it was standard to visit every school possibile on my ever-growing list. So, during the April break of my junior year of high school, my mom and I fully experienced Southern United States: we stayed in hidden, out-of-the-way hotels in the middle of empty tobacco fields; ate at restaurants that served grits and fried everything; and were constantly met with friendly Southern accents. The April break trip ended with a resounding “meh”; the South was a little too southern for me.
Florida was an entirely different story. As someone who spent five years of my life in the Sunshine State and whose family – myself included – visited my grandparents in the gulf-coast town of Port Charlotte annually, the college odyssey to Florida was a much easier trip in the sense that everything was so much more familiar. But in the end, I crossed both schools that I toured – Eckerd and Flagler (Never heard of them? Yup, that’s what extensive college research can do…) – off my list permanently. Neither felt like a “YAY I love this place,” but more like a, “That strange man holding a weird protest sign keeps looking at me and I want to go home.”
What the area around Flagler really was like…plus the buildings didn’t really look like as nice as their online counterparts.
Then I decided to focus on the Mid-Atlantic region, which in my mind, as four-to-five hours in the right downward direction, still fulfilled my “south” requirement. After the nail-biting arrival of acceptance letters, two schools made the final cut; basically, I went to each last contestant’s Accepted Students Day. Picture a boxing match: in one corner, dressed in a blue-and-white unnecessarily expensive matching track suit, Villanova sits filing his nails before bell sounds. In the other corner, decked out in blue-and-gold, Delaware, the unassuming fighter, waits patiently, mentally contemplating the best strategy for when the first round finally starts.
Ultimately, of course, Delaware, the patient prizefighter, had a few more tricks up his sleeve. At UD’s Accepted Students Day, with the balloon arches, welcoming people, copious cherry trees still in bloom, and the overall happy feel, Delaware won the match.