In tenth grade, I knew I wanted to go to college. For the past few years I’d been systematically testing out of core classes. I had CLEP credits in history, biology, sociology, composition, and literature. Some of my advisors were telling me to study at an online college, but I decided against this. I wanted the experiences and social opportunities of a brick-and-mortar school.
My top picks at the time were Harvard, Brown, MIT, and Berkeley. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get into any of them, so I added a few backup choices such as Brandeis and Boston College. I had no idea what I might major in.
As I researched, another college kept coming up: John Brown University. I was really looking to leave the South, but I was intrigued. The honors program was exceptional. After visiting the school, I was convinced of its academic prestige. Only its location held me back.
Then November of 2016 came, and with it, the election. I hadn’t expected or prepared for a Donald Trump presidency, so while others raged and protested, I researched. I set about learning all I could about Trump’s ideas and policies, and what they might mean for me. After all, it’s always better to be ahead of the curve. One thing was clear – if Donald Trump was able to implement some of his ideas, small U.S. businesses would become even more profitable.
It’s a well-recorded phenomenon that small businesses tend to thrive more in areas with other small businesses, rather than big business areas. In looking into the locations I was interested in living, Boston and the area around John Brown both stood out as the best options as far as starting a business was concerned. This left JBU, Brandeis, and Boston College as my top three choices. (I had already eliminated the Ivy Leagues for personal as well as financial reasons.)
I applied early to John Brown because they offered to waive the application fee for me, and I was accepted. I seemed to be a good candidate for some of their largest scholarships also, but still I hesitated. I really love Boston.
That’s when I learned about so-called “safe spaces”. Safe spaces are areas on college campuses where students are supposed to go to feel included and free from discrimination and “hate speech”, but they have become the scourge of higher education. Students and faculty use these safe spaces as bastions of ideology, places where they can go to avoid hearing any differing opinion from their own. In many colleges, particularly in the Northeast, students’ rights to free speech are in jeopardy. Censorship is rampant.
This was not what I wanted out of a college experience. I didn’t want to be sheltered from new and different ideas. I embraced opportunities to debate and challenge my beliefs and assumptions. I wanted to engage intellectually while in college, not check out. This left me one viable option which stood out among all the data: John Brown.
I learned several valuable lessons from my college search journey. Many times, things aren’t what they seem. Even good ideas can be abused and have dangerous consequences. Sometimes, to gain the outcome you desire, you have to do the opposite of what you originally think.
I feel very confident in my college decision and excited for the future.