Written by Abigail, #5

 

As my senior year approached, the question of what college I would attend loomed in front of me. Actually, it had been present for a while, ever since Keegan had left for college and I was clearly next in line.

For years, I knew what school I wanted to go to. Fordham University. I wanted to major in their theater program, graduate, and find my way onto the professional stage. The first three and a half years of high school, most everything I did had the end goal of admission and enrollment at Fordham. I took online summer classes to prep for my SATs, I dove headfirst into a slurry of extracurriculars and AP classes, all the stuff that you hear of every high school student doing when they have a goal they want to achieve.

In the spring of my junior year, when I visited the campus, although I liked it, I felt something was missing. I continued to call Fordham my top choice, my dream school. I visited a couple other schools, Providence College and Holy Cross, but I still hadn’t found the “ah ha…this is the school for me.” Until my parents mentioned The Catholic University of America, located in Washington D.C.

At first, I was completely against the decision. It was far away, Washington D.C. was way out of the radius of cities I wanted to go to, CUA wasn’t on my initial list of schools and I hesitated to deviate from that list. (I’m a little stubborn)

I had spent so long convincing myself that Fordham and New York City were the places for me that I didn’t want to look at any new cities. Still, I went to an information session about CUA that was offered at my school and started to fall for the school. In September of my senior year, mom and I toured the school and I had my “ah-ha” moment. They had the Communications and Media Major I wanted, they had the theater minor, they had the English department…it was perfect. Also, two of my siblings lived in Washington D.C. so I would be close to family. I applied and was given an early acceptance with a merit scholarship of $23,000. That scholarship was renewable for four years and paid for more than half of my tuition. I figured when I got my financial aid statement, I would be off to D.C. to be a Cardinal at Catholic University.

However, the financial aid statement left a great deal to be desired. The amount I would be expected to pay every year would leave me about $68,000 in debt at the end of my four years, plus an additional $32,000 in federal loans. Suddenly, the school of my dreams was completely out of reach. I battled with the financial aid office at CUA for a few weeks, pleading my case, trying to acquire more financial aid, more merit. The simple fact was that CUA had a large enrollment and a fairly small endowment, so they were unable to meet my financial needs. The other school that was among my options was College of the Holy Cross. It was a good school, and, the most tempting part, I had received a scholarship that would leave me in less than $10,000 of debt when I graduated my senior year. Holy Cross was my second choice though. They didn’t have my communications major, and it’s in Worcester, which is definitely not Washington D.C.

It was becoming increasingly clear that Holy Cross would be my only option because I couldn’t take on that much debt and go to CUA. It was time to start wrapping my brain around it.

the high school grads minus Keegan

I’m the fifth child in the family to undertake the college decision process. Up until now, everyone in my family had worked hard in high school and gotten to go to the school they wanted. Brendan got a great deal and had a great four years at Loyola University Maryland, Bridget had an amazing four years at Boston College, Kelly got a full ride to her dream school, Georgetown University, and Keegan gained admission at the United States Military Academy at West Point.  The lesson I learned was this:  work hard, and if you know what you want, do whatever you have to do to get it.

But no matter how hard I worked or how sleep-deprived I was due to classes and extracurriculars, it would not make CUA come back with a better offer. So I attended the Accepted Students Day at Holy Cross, talked to professors, and started outlining a plan for my life in Worcester. Two weeks later, I put down my deposit at Holy Cross. It was a difficult decision, and one I lost sleep over for weeks because I was the first kid in the family not to go to their first-choice school.

As time went on, I did more research and became more acclimated to the idea of going to Holy Cross. My college advisor at my high school was over the moon about the school I had chosen, and the alumni I talked to were so excited that I had chosen to attend their alma mater. Later in June, I attended the Gateways Orientation, a two-day freshman orientation at Holy Cross and that worked wonders as far as solidifying my decision. I met some great people who would be in my class, spoke to more professors, and got my academic schedule put together.

I’ll  be close to Bridget, who is a teacher in Boston, so I can visit her whenever I want, and I would be close to home. I’m going to have a great four years as a Holy Cross Crusader, it just wasn’t the path I thought I would follow.

But I’m OK with that.

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