Acceptance: Becoming a College Student

Autumn of 2017 was one of the most stressful times of my life. A few months shy of 18, I spent the Saturday after Halloween submerged in the couch, eyes fixed to my computer screen while episodes of Spongebob played muted on the TV. That night, the Early Action college application would close promptly at midnight. 

The day prior, a friend explained to me there was a higher chance of getting accepted into the colleges I wanted if I applied for Early Action because of the smaller number of applicants. I rushed home as soon as school was over, planted myself on the couch and started to type out supplemental essays for the eight schools I wished to attend. 

During my senior year I was still pretty unsure with what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I enjoyed reading and writing but I didn’t have a passion like many others in my grade. Because of this, I applied to schools all across the country without getting my hopes too high. I didn’t have a specific dream that involved a particular school, but I planned on attending the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, a campus about 15 minutes from my house and a safety school for most locals. 

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A few anxious months later, the results started trickling in. I found out I was accepted to the University of Wisconsin, Madison while in line for popcorn at the movie theater. My acceptance to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities arrived by email at dinner time, while my parents watched the local news and ate dinner on the couch. My acceptance into Boston University’s College of Communication came on a lazy afternoon watching cartoons in my basement. 

Getting accepted to BU came as a major surprise. To be honest, I had completely forgotten I even applied and only did so because of my dad’s encouragement. One drizzly and cold spring break trip to Boston a year prior to visit BU’s campus left me with a bad impression of the college and the town. The campus was a group of blocky, concrete buildings plopped down in the middle of a busy city. The outdated library and brutalist dorms were depressing. Nickerson Field in West Campus was the only part of the school that felt remotely similar to the colleges I grew up near, but the campus lacked community and school spirit. 

Because of that trip I almost turned my back completely on BU. I spent many long nights mulling over my choice between the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin. My acceptance to BU was a great honor and opportunity, but it was completely forgotten under my preconceived notions and first impressions of the school. 

I almost let judgement get in the way of my decision. Watching the kids in the grades above me go to big schools like the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin compelled me to follow in their footsteps. Attending schools in the Midwest was easy and familiar and most were a short drive away from my childhood home and populated with many other graduates from my high school. 

Luckily, my dad knew that moving out of the Midwest and across the country by myself was the best thing for me. It would teach me confidence and resilience, two qualities I lacked from growing up in such a tight-knit and predictable community. 

Taking risks, especially at a time in life with so much change, can be paralyzingly terrifying. Whether you’re attending a school 15 minutes from your house or 1500 miles away, moving out of your house and gaining independence is a major step in anyone’s life. I was lucky enough to have another influence pushing me to get out and take a risk. I realize a lot of people may not have that luxury, but I hope any other indecisive students realize that every opportunity is important and something to take seriously. 

Me, in the middle, with my two best friends of 10 years walking through our elementary school on graduation day. Photo taken by Sammy Baraga.

Don’t let fear hold you back from taking chances and don’t let fear control your perceptions. I almost passed up one of the greatest opportunities of my life because I was scared and I let fear justify my negative feelings. 

That being said, choosing to attend BU and move over one thousand miles away from my home was one of the hardest decisions and transitions I’ve ever made. At the time, life only seemed to get worse, but writing this now I can look back and appreciate all of the challenges and hard moments for how they’ve shaped me today.

My name is Toni Baraga and I am a senior in COM at Boston University studying journalism with a minor in archaeology. I have a passion for writing and I believe that everyone has a story. I have worked as a reporter for various newspapers, such the Somerville Journal and Boston University’s Daily Free Press. I grew up in St. Paul Minnesota and reside in Boston.

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