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Can I Handle Going To College Out Of State?

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This is part of our monthly series 'Mission: Accepted,' in partnership with Minds Matter, which chronicles the lives of four students as they apply for college in their senior year.

Since the 9th grade, I had always been told that senior year would be the easiest year of the four. Boy, were they wrong! In the beginning of the year, as I took the first steps into high school, only one thing crossed my mind; this is it, from here college. "College" echoed over and over and I could already feel the weight of it pushing down on my shoulders.

August goal: review the list I made in junior year and make sure I still wanted to attend whichever schools were chosen. I went online to the website, mycca.net, that my program Minds Matter of Los Angeles had provided for me and looked at the list. What a mess! All but two of the schools were in California and I had more than 17 selections. Would I be able to handle it? Do I really want to stay in California that badly? I asked my mentors to take a look at my choices and they confirmed my first suspicion; I had too many. They also told me it was up to me to decide if I wanted to stay in California or go out of state. There are rules, customs, social and climate factors that come into play. The more I thought of it, the more of a headache it was to decide since I really wanted to see my family often but, then again, it would only be four years away from home. I cut out some colleges that I didn't want to attend and I pondered over the other question. There is a chance that I may not like the city or the weather. I may not even feel connected to the campus for that matter. I grew up in California and have only been away from it three times in my entire life. Will I be able to deal with the society and culture at my school?

September goal: finalize my list and start on personal statements and look for scholarships. I am still pondering over the answer to that question. Around this month a representative from Smith College came to talk to the senior class of my Minds Matter program. I never thought of going to a Liberal Arts school nor, in this case, a school only for women. But the lady who spoke to us convinced me that I should take liberal arts schools into consideration. While research institutes tend to focus more on their graduate students, Liberal Arts colleges put theirs in undergraduates and I ended up falling in love with the school as equally as the first college on my list. I guess that started my desire to see what other colleges were out there, out of Cali. I researched and came up with more that I loved. But the real challenge was yet to come... personal statements. They are a nightmare! As soon as I read the questions, memories start racing through my head and I pick out the ones I believe most fit the question. As soon as I finish a paragraph, I realized all of it sounds overused and worst of all unoriginal. I have already begun three and dislike all of them. On top of this, I have been applying to scholarships that I hope I get (right now I'm crossing my fingers).

October goal: Must finalize list and start finishing the personal statements and keep looking for scholarships. I am currently trying a different approach to these statements. A little inspiration came from my AP English Literature teacher after she gave a mini-lesson on how to answer these questions when she put on her white board a week before. I can't remember it exactly, but it went something like this: The simple answer is usually the best one, not the complicated one. Good advice -- it will save me from getting more headaches in the future. I found a couple more scholarships that I would like to apply to if there's time.

Senior year = stress, headaches, sleep deprivation, caffeine in the format of candy (I dislike coffee, unless it's a Starbucks frap), maybe taking unscheduled naps in class and, of course, Senioritis. It exists and will bite hard; don't think you're immune to it, everyone gets it! Senior year; this is it, next stop college.