Well, I finally made a decision. In the fall, I'll be going to Marquette University in Milwaukee! I spent a lot of time considering the benefits and drawbacks of the three schools where I had been accepted -- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Loyola University Chicago and Marquette -- and the choice was not easy, but I know I made the right one.
There were a few things I had to think about when deciding what school would be the best fit for me. The first thing I looked at was cost. Loyola was the most expensive of the three, so I had to take that off the list right away. Although I had been a finalist for a scholarship there, which I wrote about last month, unfortunately I did not end up getting it. Because of this, tuition to Loyola would be more than my family could afford. I was really disappointed. I had a great time over the weekend I spent there. I met all these new people, both potential and current students -- I even saw some kids from my high school who now go to Loyola. We did a lot that weekend: went on a campus tour, hung out downtown, ate pizza at Giordano's and hot dogs at Portillo's, saw Evil Dead, hung out in the student lounge playing Super Smash Bros Melee, and walked along the lake. Everything just seemed so amazing. I could see myself there doing all of it as a freshman. But without the scholarship, I wouldn't get the chance.
Then there were two: U of I and Marquette. U of I is the least expensive option, but Marquette has the major I want, Criminology and Law Studies. On one hand, I do not want my parents to have to take out too much in loans, but on the other, I'd like to be able to study exactly what I want. Size was also a factor. Big schools are intimidating to me (I'm a bit of a wallflower). My high school graduating class is about 130 students, and I have gotten comfortable being in a small school where I know everyone and everyone knows me, and where teachers are able to give attention to each student. When I saw that Marquette had around 8,000 total students compared to U of I's gigantic 35,000, I started leaning more toward Marquette. Add in the city setting of the campus and I was even more sold. I could picture myself walking around Milwaukee with my friends on the weekends. Though I have not been able to visit the school yet, I've talked to a bunch of current student and alums who have told me what professors are cool, and which dorms are the most popular, and that there's a Taste of Chicago-style event every year. It all sounded good to me.
And then one day earlier this month, my counselor informed me that I was eligible for a half-tuition scholarship to Marquette! But of course, there was a catch: If I was to receive this scholarship, I would lose an academic scholarship the school had already given me. This seemed like a fair trade-off, though: With the half-tuition scholarship, Marquette would cost me about as much as U of I, so I wouldn't have to take out as many loans to go there after all. Ultimately, I ended up getting the scholarship, which all of a sudden made my choice even easier, and my parents supported me all the way. Actually, even if that scholarship hadn't worked out, I still think I would have picked Marquette. It has everything I want, and the slightly higher cost would have been worth it -- to me and my family. My parents just wanted me to pick the school that was the right one for me, the place where I would feel the most comfortable.
Now I am excited to start my freshman year at Marquette. I already have a roommate, too -- my best friend from high school is also going there, something we didn't realize until after I made my decision. We have already started planning out what each of us will bring for our dorm room (the usual: TV, game system, fridge). I can't wait to go to campus this August and start the new chapter of my life with my family and friends supporting me.