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Student Blog: Dear Seniors, An Advice Letter For College Commitment Season

In honor of the approaching “decision day,” I’m sharing my overall college takeaways and (slightly cursed) decision day story.

Student Blog: Dear Seniors, An Advice Letter For College Commitment Season Hello Broadway lovers, creators, and theatre students around the world! Welcome back to the blog, and happy April. This month signals flash thunderstorms, constant indecision about wearing a light or heavy jacket, and college commitment season. All over the world, people are selecting where to study for the next four years. High school seniors flood Instagram with different mascots, fun captions, and general exuberance about their soon-to-be new homes. But Instagram only provides one side of the story. Choosing a school can feel overwhelming. Trust me, I've been there. In honor of the approaching "decision day," I'm sharing my overall college takeaways and (slightly cursed) decision day story. Hopefully, it can help ease some worries, and at least let you know that you're not alone.

If you don't know this about me, I study theatre and communications at the University of Maryland. I am proud of my school and love the people I work with, especially my theatre department. But it wasn't always that way. I did not want to go to U of M for a variety of reasons, including (but not limited to): it's too big, it's too close to home, not "theatre-y" enough for me (I wanted a BFA, not a BA), it's my state school, and did I mention it's too big? I thought I wanted a small, theatre oriented, liberal arts school- and that's the opposite of UMD. I ended up committing primarily for logical reasons and was ashamed to admit that to my friends going to their dream schools. While I wore my terrapin gear and a smile, inside I was terrified. I thought I would be miserable at college. This mindset was cemented when on "Decision Day," I wacked my head on a table and had to leave school while my friends got to take pictures wearing their college gear. I'd made up my mind. College was going to suck.

Starting college was definitely a culture shock. But I didn't hate it as anticipated. Freshman year was surprisingly good and living at home for the remainder of COVID was difficult. I am beyond grateful for the fact I committed to a school that I (and my bank account) actually liked. These revelations inspired me to make Leah's Guide to College Worries. Read on!

If you're worried that...your school is too big/small. I think the solution to either one of those problems lies in finding community (big school) and opportunity (small school). When I found my theatre community, my school shrank from 35,000 to 200. I had a place on campus where everyone knew my name. Then, when I got tired of being in that small pond, I could look elsewhere on campus for more groups to join outside my major. I became a campus tour guide and joined a peer counseling center, opportunities I may not have gotten at a small school.

If you wish your school was bigger, I encourage you to try and find opportunities inside of school that take you outside the norm! This can look like pursuing an internship, a new job, or just trying a new hobby/club. Sometimes the most unexpected things produce the best results.

If you're worried that...your school just doesn't feel right. I hear ya. If you didn't have that "say yes to the dress" moment the second you stepped on campus, it's okay. When I walked onto UMD's campus for the first time, it was raining. I hated it. I just wanted to go home. If your school wasn't your first choice, I assure you a lot of that changes once you step on campus. It becomes less about "this school was my third choice" and more about "how can I have a good day today?" Most worries about disliking a specific college evaporate once it actually starts. Additionally, everyone faces similar struggles when starting school- no matter where you all end up committing. Homesickness, fights with friends, or general stress can happen at your first or fourth choice schools. Disclaimer: This is my personal story and my experience. If your school continues to make you miserable, it's completely normal and valid to leave or transfer. I just want to remind everyone to give your school a chance first.

If you're worried that...it's not good enough for [insert major here]. This is something I still struggle with. I always wanted to pursue a BFA in acting, but my parents preferred a BA so I could expand my horizons. I didn't audition for any conservatory programs ($$) and spent mental energy on my "what-ifs." Mid freshman year, I already loved my school but worried that it wasn't enough, and by extension, I wasn't enough. That changed a little when my mom said the following. "When you're number 345 in a cattle call, no one will care what school you went to. They'll care about the talent you bring." Her words helped me refocus on my mission. I'd spent so much time thinking about failing that I hadn't even started trying! At the end of the day, you get out of college what you put into it. While there are different advantages of different schools, 2+2 = 4 at Yale or Brown or Maryland. Uta Hagen's teachings are the same at UConn or Harvard or Bowie State. It's all up to us to take the opportunity we get in college to learn and grow on our own accord. The school can't force us to learn or change. That decision is entirely in our hands.

No matter where you end up committing this season, I ask you to focus on what excites you about your school, or what you're looking forward to learning. Most importantly, trust in yourself to have a good/educational college experience. You are enough. Acting, at the end of the day, is not about your school's name. It's about the unique light and energy you bring to the table. And we all have it. So go out there and kick some theatre butt for the next four! Break legs.


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From This Author Student Blogger: Leah Packer