Decisions…Decisions…Decided!

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Brooke Shamon, Voices@Bedford High School

I am one of 23 first cousins. Most are older than me and have gone through the college process years ahead of me. I would watch the magic of it all unfold, how they would miraculously receive a letter in the mail that decided their future for them. A few months later, they’d appear on a card with a school t-shirt showing off their spirit and excitement about the next four years. To me, it was as simple as that. But I learned very quickly that making a college decision is a lot harder than it looks from the outside. Often, it’s a boat-load of make-up to cover the bags under your eyes from lack of sleep and a plastered smile as your mind wanders about endless possibilities and problems.

Flashback to seventh grade…I sit in my grandparents’ kitchen and steal one of my cousin’s college books. At the time, he was going through the magical and mysterious process of applying to schools. I wanted to be just like Matt, so I began to flip through a large yellow copy of “Best Colleges of 2014.” In my mind, New York already seemed like a pretty great place. The city, the hustle, and bustle of it all. So, I decided to begin my imaginary college search there. I found a sticky note and pen and began listing a bunch of colleges close to the city. Eventually, one stood out to me: Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY.  I will never know why but that was the first and only college I looked up and studied for the next four years.

In the fall of my junior year, I made my first visit to Marist.  My bedroom was already decorated in Marist postcards, very similar to Rory Gilmore’s (The Gilmore Girls) Harvard collection. I had been gifted clothing from the college’s bookstore, and my heart had chosen Marist as my future. I vividly remember walking up the side stairwell connected to the Dome building and Midrise Hall. A smile was plastered on my face as crisp fall air blew off the Hudson River. As I reached the top step, my eyes widened as they took in the greenery before me with the James A. Cannavino Library hugging the quad from the opposite side. I looked at my family and nodded, “This is it!”

I knew we could stop looking; there was no other place I’d rather be. That was only solidified when I spent two weeks there the following summer for a pre-college program. The school promoted family and that was proven to me in those two weeks. I made life-long friends who carried me through the uncertainty of being a whole other state away. However, I would be lying if doubts did not come with this decision. Other shiny new colleges were thrown my way, and at one point, I was close to picking Savannah (Savannah College of Art and Design) over Poughkeepsie. Looking at it now, I am beyond grateful that I chose Poughkeepsie.

There is a lot more that goes into making a college decision than just dorm rooms and location. Financial decisions are huge and can take a huge chunk out of your life besides the worry about paying back hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans.  Pro tip for rising seniors: choose to take Business Math with Ms. Flora. Learning about loans, budgeting and preparing for my future really got me to put things into perspective. Saving for books, materials, travel, even dorm decorations is something one must consider. Another hard pill to swallow was putting college dreams into perspective. Even if you have your heart set on a school, it’s important to think realistically about your future. Where you want to end up, how you will afford to live there, the list goes on. I’m beyond thrilled and grateful that I can think back to the seventh-grade dream and now know it can come true. Writing for a fashion magazine stationed in Manhattan, Hearst Tower, that’s the dream!  I know that the right college will be important to help me get there including internships and plenty of experience; Marist has all of that. However, for a few months, I didn’t know if that dream would be my reality.

After many sleepless, tear-filled nights, numerous college tours and research tabs filling up my laptop screen, I am ready to kickstart my dream. I am very excited to officially announce that I committed to the Marist College Class of 2023! The moment was something special and made all the work over the years and in the last few months particularly, worth it. Honestly, to me, going through all the messiness of the past few months made submitting my deposit that much more special. We celebrated with Marist t-shirts and dancing around the living room to the school’s cheer song, and that is something I will always remember.

There is a lot to come.  Newness and the idea of a fresh start sound like just the right cure for senior-itis, but this change is scary, too. I turned 18 this past October.  I know I’ve been an “adult” for quite some time now but the knowledge that day today I’ll be living on my own in New York can feel a little sad. Dance parties in the kitchen will have to be postponed until breaks, and homecooked meals will shrink to a minimum. As time goes on, I start to realize that the very beginning of my adult life is here whether I’m ready for it or not. As I make new friends, I start to realize that the friends I have grown up with, the friends I have seen almost every single day for the past 12 years, will not be a short walk away in a few months’ time. These realizations are bittersweet. I know as we grow up the people we want to stay connected to we will stay connected to. They are only a phone call away.  But as a reminder to the juniors (honestly, everyone) don’t take time for granted. It is hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that this year has flown by so fast, imagine the last 12 years. A part of me is eager for the next chapter, but I know I am not ready to say good-bye to BHS just yet…