05/14/2013 10:50 am ET Updated Jul 14, 2013

Ready or Not, Here I Come


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.

Now that I have gotten over the rejections I wrote about last month, I am unbelievably excited to announce that on April 16, 2013, I turned in my enrollment deposit and officially became a University of Chicago Phoenix. Kenyon is a great school -- and the campus is jaw-droppingly gorgeous -- but after a lot of thinking, I decided that UChicago is the place for me. Yes, Kenyon has an awesome English program (John Green, one of my writer idols, graduated from the school with a major in English), a student body full of quirky and creative individuals, and a great selection of sandwiches, but UChicago is one of the best schools in the world, has better networking opportunities, and is located in one of America's greatest cities. And ultimately, UChicago is the best for my future.

Don't get me wrong; I could get far in life with a degree in English from Kenyon. But I almost definitely will get far with a degree in mathematics or economics from UChicago. For me, what comes after college -- the job opportunities, making money, and acquiring a life that's better than any I've ever known -- is just as important, if not more so, as college itself.

I'm excited as heck to attend UChicago, but I'm also nervous. I've lived in the suburbs all my life. What if the city is too rough and intimidating for me? I'm book-smart, but I'm pretty street-stupid. For example, how do the subways and buses work? I honestly have no clue. What do I do when a strange man leers at me and doesn't get the concept of personal space? I'm pretty sure just standing there and cursing the fact that I never took karate is not the answer. Maybe I should convince my dad to let me buy a Taser. Better safe than sorry, right? I joke, but I do have some real fears. Chicago is known for gang violence, and a student was shot near the university's campus a few years ago. I know violence can happen anywhere, but I'm from a small-town high school where the worst thing that has happened while I've been there is a guy getting into a fight over his shoes. Even with all the tragic events that have occurred at suburban schools over the last several years, it is still hard for me to imagine something so horrifying happening in my hometown.

Some may ask why I decided to go to UChicago instead of the more rural Kenyon if I'm so concerned about surviving in the big city. The answer is that I want to have exciting experiences for once in my life. No offense to Kenyon, but it's in the middle of nowhere. When I think of Chicago, I think of the city of dreams, a place where anything and everything can happen, and the town in which Frank Sinatra said you could have the time of your life. The suburbs can be a great place to grow up in, but they're not exactly hotbeds of culture or excitement. The most exciting thing that's happened in my town lately is somebody's house getting toilet-papered. But in Chicago, there are so many places to go -- museums, concerts, restaurants, you name it -- and so many things to do. And I can experience all of it, but first I need to learn how the El and the buses work -- and maybe take a self-defense class.

As ready as I am to go to college, I am worried about homesickness. I know I've said my parents are ridiculously overprotective and major fun-killers, but that doesn't mean I won't miss them and my sisters. What will I do without my mom's cooking, or my dad's lame jokes that I laugh at anyway, or my in-depth conversations with my sisters about One Direction and Korean boy bands? Who will keep me grounded? Who will help keep me sane when I'm drowning in a sea of math problems and essay assignments? And I'm also worried about fitting in. What if everyone is more intellectual and sophisticated than me? What if I go from being one of the smartest kids in the room to one of the dumbest? I'm probably stressing out too much about this, right?

For now, I'll focus on the positives and save the tears and all of that sentimental jazz for graduation (dang, May 30 is almost here... I don't even want to think about it!). World-class education? Great. Free access to art museums with my student ID? Wicked. Lo mein noodles on the dining hall menu? Delicious. No more PE requirements? Awesome, especially for a seriously non-athletically-inclined person like me. I may be nervous about all of the unknowns, but here's what I do know: The future ahead of me is a bright one. I'm going to live in Chicago! I'm getting an education, practically for free, at a school that has produced more than 80 Nobel Prize winners. And pretty soon, I won't have to ask my parents' permission -- or be denied it -- for anything.

Ready or not, UChicago, here I come.