by Lorraine Petrie

Ever since I was a kid, I just assumed everyone went to college after high school. Just like going from kindergarten to first grade, then grade school to high school…it was simply the natural progression of things. There wasn’t much to think about: my parents enrolled me in school, dropped me off, picked me up, and I did what I was told. They expected me to go to college, and I enjoyed school, so it was a no-brainer.

Then high school began and college became more of a reality. All of a sudden, I had choices. I had opinions. Which schools should I apply to? Did I want to stay local or go out of state? What field of study would I major in? I didn’t know what I wanted to be “when I grew up,” let alone what type of majors even existed; I was more concerned with where I was going to eat after class (and if I’d have enough time to scarf it down before volleyball practice). College planning was not at the forefront of my daily life. My mom went to college in the Philippines, and my dad had just taken a few courses at the local Cal State while he worked full-time. Soooo, they weren’t exactly experienced in the college counseling department. I don’t even think the counselor at my semi-small private high school knew my name, despite the fact that I went to all of my required scheduled appointments with him as set by the school -- and if he did, I definitely don’t remember him being remotely helpful OR interested in my future. So I was pretty much on my own.

We had reps come from different universities to speak about their schools and the programs offered, and they enticed us with photos of campus life and reasons we should apply to their school. But how to get accepted to these prestigious universities? That was a whole different topic. Heck, getting into college should be its own course. Luckily, students these days have the internet at their fingertips and information is readily available, but there is just SO much information and so little time to sift through it all, make sense of it, and come up with a realistic plan. Had my life been a Disney movie, that’s when my own personal college counselor would have magically appeared...