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January 26, 2013

1

Why I Came to Clark

A beautiful snapshot of campus nabbed by the Physical Plant.

I know this seems like a post I should’ve done closer to when I actually initially came to Clark, but the time never felt right, and when the time did feel right, I didn’t have enough time to give it the justice it deserves. I feel like this is the right time to do it, especially with more and more students deciding every day to come to Clark.

When I was in high school, I was obsessed with college since the first day of my freshman year. Everything I did revolved around building a good resume for applications, I researched colleges in my spare time, and I incessantly monitored my grades to ensure that when the time came to apply to colleges, I would have as many options as I could. I was convinced I was going to go to a big name liberal arts college or Ivy League with acceptance rates lower than 10% and that those kind of schools were going to be the only places I would be happy. I refused to even consider going to a state school and blanched at the thought of going anywhere with an average ACT score lower than 32. I based the quality of schools on numbers. I firmly believed that any school that didn’t fit those qualifications was filled with unmotivated, uneducated peasants.

Application time arrived far sooner than I had ever imagined it would, and my mom, for the first time in my entire life, intervened in my academic affairs and told me that it was absolutely unacceptable for me to only apply to Ivy Leagues and hidden ivies and other schools that I barely had a chance to get in to. She said that yeah, those schools are great, if you had straight A’s and composed a symphony at the age of 6 and your father is a diplomat and you can ride a motorcycle backwards while juggling flaming chainsaws and your only desire in life is to be surrounded by people who can do that and more. My mother also said that just because a school doesn’t require you to have outlandish grades and impossible test scores and for you to set the national record for length of time hula-hooping (it’s 74 hours and 54 minutes, if you’re curious), that doesn’t mean that it’s an unworthy institution for lowlife bottom feeders. At first I protested. I kicked. I screamed. I shouted and hollered. And finally I caved, and applied to some schools that I had heard had a fantastic reputation, despite the fact that they aren’t impossible to get into.

Clark was one of these schools I applied to. I had heard excellent things about it, but I just wasn’t convinced it was the place I wanted to be. At that point, I was still convinced that the only place for me was a school with absurd qualifications. I was still convinced that college was about numbers.

When acceptance letters started rolling in, I received acceptance letters from several East coast schools, so my mother and I decided it would be prudent to make one big trip across the country and visit. To be completely honest with you, Class of 2017, Clark wasn’t really on my radar. I had my eye on a different school in Maryland  that I was more interested in than Clark. I’m so glad that I made the visits to the other school and Clark, because I absolutely detested the other school from the moment I stepped on the campus. As I’m sure a lot of potential college students know, it’s completely possible to walk on to a college campus, decide you hate it, and then get in the car, leave and never look back. That was my experience at this other school that I had convinced myself I wanted to go to.

On the other hand, I fell in love with Clark the minute we pulled into the parking lot. Every predisposition I had about only wanting to attend competitive schools and numbers and admissions statistics completely flew out the window when I realized that Clark was the perfect school for me. When I walked through the campus, I didn’t feel like numbers even mattered. I felt surrounded by like-minded, intelligent people who were passionate about everything that they did. I knew from the bottom of my heart that Clark is the place I wanted and needed to be.

My lesson learned here is that you shouldn’t base your judgement on schools based on numbers or what you read in expensive “ratings” books, because you can’t actually know what works for you until you’ve experienced it. I’m not trying to bash competitive schools, because I’m sure they’re competitive for a reason, but I think this numbers system that’s being used to make competitive schools seem more desirable is causing people like me to become disinterested with schools that don’t revolve around admissions statistics. At the end of the day, Clark is  a competitive school in that it challenges me in new ways every day, whether it be academically, mentally, or in my beliefs. You’re more than a number here, you’re a person, and that is one item on the infinitely growing list of reasons I’m so glad I came to Clark.

1 Comment
  1. Sandra Anderson
    Jan 27 2013

    Dear Melissa-
    Lovely! Thank you for putting your school search into such poignant phrases!
    Sincerely,
    Sandi and Molly (LA, CA)

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