NYU, and the Fried, Leftover Fragments of a Brain

12/19/2011 08:25 am ET | Updated Feb 18, 2012
  • Jada Alexander 18-year-old freshman at New York University in New York, NY

"I remember sitting in the very seats you all are sitting in right now -- just a few years ago, I was in the same position," an undergraduate at New York University said at a college info session I attended last month. Ah, the art of relating to somebody goes such a long way -- her words were a slight comfort to me (let's cling to that keyword 'slight,' though). I mean, it was intimidating being in New York City, surrounded by NYU students in the Steinhardt School of Education. I kept telling myself, "Wow, I could be one of these aspiring teachers... I could be at Starbucks on a Sunday morning doing homework... This could be me." But I felt so young! And little! And then I started asking myself, "Am I even going to look like a college student in less than a year?"

Despite getting lost a few times, I genuinely enjoyed NYU. It's kind of a scattered community around Washington Square Park. The faculty members hosting the info session were absolutely hilarious -- the admissions speaker was practically a comedian. And if an admissions representative can make more than 100 people laugh about SAT scores and such, then something must be clicking with that school. I also had the opportunity to go to the Teaching Education info session, where the director of the department read us Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day to express the significance of reading to children. We all got to be kids again for a few minutes, and that's always awesome. I then took a tour of a residence hall, which made me fall even more in love with the school. The sense of community in the dorms was so comforting. On one floor, someone's door was completely covered with birthday present wrapping paper; there was a big bow to top it off and a small post-it note saying "Happy Birthday!" from the RA. Another door had a small piece of paper on it reading, "This door is never locked -- please come in!" These are just a couple examples of how close and welcoming everyone at NYU seems. It made me super excited to know that at this time next year, I'll be a part of a college community just like this (all fingers crossed!).

I could not wait to get back to Boston to reunite with the dear ol' Common App (we're best friends now). October consisted of a lot of decision-making. I clicked the "remove this school" button twice, so now I'm down to 14 schools. I guess this is the time to really look at them and ask myself if I'm applying because I want to see if I can get accepted, or because I can truly see myself walking their streets, sitting in their classrooms, learning among their students.

I've been spending a lot of time lately staring at Stanford's supplements, which include a total of 10 essay questions like, "What five words best describe you?" and "What matters to you, and why?" Those questions, not to mention all the other supplements I have to complete, will lead to no-friends-until-further-notice very soon. Juggling school, friends, SAT prep, and college applications -- finding a balance between all of them -- is one of the hardest things I've gone through so far. I'm sure seniors across the country would agree with that. I think it's all about being responsible and knowing who you are. For example, I know that if I leave all of my homework until Sunday afternoon, I won't finish until midnight. I also know that I can't work on all things college until I'm finished with homework, so I try to get my homework done during free periods in school or when I have early dismissal and my best friend (remember the French-braider?) and I are grabbing a bite to eat before debate practice. This way, I'm decreasing the weight on my shoulders hour by hour. But we also need to have some fun now and then, right? Yes, we do. So I'll go to the movies, and then I'll go home and get some work done. I refuse to let senior year be all work and no play. It's senior year, for crying out loud!

November brought the college application stress-o-meter pretty high, but I'm excited because my mom surprised me with a college tour and interview at the University of Chicago (more on that experience in my next post)! As I move into the last month before the January 1 deadline for most of my schools, I wish the best of luck to all seniors: may the holiday cheer ease our stress and comfort our exhausted minds, for they are surely on the brink of being fried by now.