The two words that I wanted to have sum up my future as high school wound down. The two words that through a long process, came to be true about my college career and continue to be true heading forward. The following is a chronicle of that story...
1) In the Beginning....
As my senior year at Avon High School in my hometown of Avon, Indiana began drawing to a close, I was a little bit behind everyone else in the college applications process. It was around this time four years ago that I was beginning to take my first college visits, whereas most of my friends had already taken their college visits during the fall. So behind the eight ball in the beginning. Not the way "No Regrets" was supposed to be working out. That would change as time rolled on though...
2) Application Slowdown: Late to the Party
From the beginning, I was late to the college applications party. In high school, I always seemed to be in the here and the now rather than thinking ahead. I finally got serious about college applications in late December-early January, around the time when all of my other friends were already taking college visits.
However, choosing what I wanted to do was what ultimately held me back in applying. I was not originally going to be a journalism major. As a band geek in high school who spent four years in marching band at Avon (winning four state titles) and winter drumline, I was originally headed down the path of a music major. I was talked out of it by Jay Webb, my high school band director in a sit-down meeting with me, my parents, and my advisors/teachers. This is where things changed for me. My mother, having observed my communications ability from a young age, suggested that I take the broadcast news class that was now being offered at my high school. It was like love at first sight. My path was now set. All I had to do now was to find a college home to fulfill "No Regrets" and keep my soul at peace.
3) My Lifelong Attachment to Indiana University
My father recieved his Ph.D in the chemistry department here at IU, so naturally I grew up wanting to come to IU. I originally applied to a handful of Indiana colleges (including IU, Ball State, and Butler) and was accepted to all of them. Now came the time for college visits. Having now chosen journalism as my major, I discovered that Ball State and IU were the best of the schools that I had applied to for the journalism major, so I scheduled visits with both.
IU was first on the docket. I had seen the campus before a few years earlier on a side trip to Bloomington, but had never really gotten a chance to take an guided tour. I left that first tour impressed by the natural beauty of the campus and how it had what to me was a "small-town" feel. I immediately turned and told my parents that I felt at home at IU. They were both proud to hear it, but they also encouraged me to take my visit to Ball State before making an official decision on anything.
So I went to Ball State. The day started off badly with icy weather and cold temperatures (a stark contrast to the weather in Bloomington on my IU visit). My tour at Ball State focused largely on the broadcast facilities at Ball State. I was completely blown away by the Letterman building (named for late-night host David Letterman, a Ball State alum) and the facilites were awesome.
One problem: the environment of the campus and the town were entirely different. At that point in my life, I was not particularly comfortable in what I saw as more... "urban" environments, if you will. As someone who grew up in the countryside outside the suburbs, the environment at Ball State (and Muncie in particular) were too crowded and "big city" for my tastes.
The IU environment had far more of the "small-town" feel that I was looking for and what I considered to be (and still do consider it to be) a fine journalism school. So when the time came to send my deposit off to which school that I wished to attend, the money was sent to Indiana University. My college choice was now complete and I was set to move forward with my college plans and achievement of "No Regrets".
4) Final Thoughts/Look at "No Regrets"
As I look back on everything some four years later, in anticipation of soon graduating college, I wouldn't have done things any differently if I had to do the whole college application process all over again. IU and the Bloomington community have served as an excellent home and place of personal growth over the last four years of my life. Ball State had the facilities, but the opportunity that I saw at IU, the opportunity to grow and mature while still being within two hours from home was one that I couldn't pass up. The prime experience and opportunity that I have had in broadcast internships in my time in Bloomington also serves as a source of contentment and inner peace with my college decision from four years ago.
Finally, after four years time, those two very important words at the beginning of this article can now be said with conviction and in full truth.
(above right): Me as an IU senior, readying for August graduation. Photo: Facebook