"You can't make me!" How I ended up at IU (at first) against my will

Everyone comes to IU a different way, but I feel like I really should share how I came to be at this fine university, considering IU is the absolute last place that I wanted to wind up. 

Let me preface: I am glad I'm here, and I love it. Or, I at least love it like 90% of the time. But it took me a while to get to that point. 

When you go off to college, you're supposed to be excited. Choosing a university is usually the first major decision that you make as an adult. At least in my experience, the parents have some say--and the schools of course have the most say--but in the end, it comes down to you and that enrollment form. 

I was a really good student in high school. Like embarrassingly good; we don't need to talk about it. But I came out of Carmel, so...being a good student doesn't really mean as much. Just to paint a picture of that high school in the rare case you haven't heard of it (most people have, in Indiana), I graduated with over a 4.0 GPA, and I was still not in the top 25% of my class.

But I was not to be daunted by the people around me. So senior year rolled around, and it was finally time to make that decision: where I would go to college. 

Arrogant and overconfident as I am, I aimed high. I applied at Northwestern, Columbia, New York University, a whole bunch of others I'm forgetting at this point. I applied to Ball State as a backup, just because it wasn't IU. Collectively, I probably spent over 20 hours in this Starbucks by my house filling out applications and at least a couple hundred dollars mailing them and paying the fees. 

It was my parents who forced me to apply to IU. They said it couldn't hurt to have a second backup. My brother and sister both went here, and they'd like. I'd like it too! Right?

I straight up didn't believe them. Like I said, I come from Carmel. And in Carmel, we have a joke about "Carmel North" and "Carmel South"--Purdue and IU, respectively. I graduated in a class of 1,300 kids, and probably about 300 of them went to IU. I'd like to think that number is inflated, but, honestly, I think that's dreaming on my part. 

Given that I was kind of over the kids I'd spent high school with, I wanted nothing to do with spending ANOTHER four years with 300 of my closest friends. 

IU was the first place I got accepted, and I threw out the acceptance letter. They sent me a scarf, too. One of those Hutton scarves that everyone got, but no one thinks anyone else got, so everyone wore them to school the next day. Remember those? I'm sure some of you have one. 

I did not wear mine. I remember telling my mom I didn't even want to touch it; it would curse me. 

That was in the fall. Then, over the next couple months, the rest of the letters trickled in. I was accepted at Ball State (go figure), wait listed at Northwestern, like super-wait-listed at Columbia, and then I was accepted to New York University. 

NYU was my dream. Senior year, I had a sweatshirt from my college visit, and I wore it basically every day. I kept everything they sent to me in the mail, and I could not stop thinking about living in New York city. 

I still had a couple of months to decide, even though, in my mind, there was no decision to be made; it was NYU. However, in the meantime I applied for IU's Ernie Pyle Scholar program, which is this journalism scholar group that gets to take cool trips together and gets additional scholarships. (If you read my other post, they're the group I get to go to London with). 

I was accepted to that too. Which was cool, and I was really excited, but I didn't think it really mattered, as I wasn't going to IU.

In the final weeks before I had to sign somewhere, my parents forced me to sit down and talk to them about things. I told them, "It's NYU. Clearly. I got in. That's where I'm going."

They both looked at me from the other end of our dining room table, and my mom said, "Hannah, it's 50 grand a year."

Truth. I knew this. But remember how in high school you're convinced things like student loans don't matter? Because I do. I didn't understand the problem.

Essentially, my parents told me I had to go to IU. My new adult self was outraged. This was my choice. I could go wherever I damn well wanted. It was my money, my future. 

Which is probably in hindsight why my parents didn't let me do it, but that's a side note. 

I cried. For days. Being dramatic and convinced that I had a right to be so righteously indignant at the entire situation. 

I signed on at IU, and I signed up for orientation. 

I hated orientation. Not because orientation was bad, but because I was convinced I hated IU. All summer, I dreaded leaving. 

But, I went of course. I moved into IU a week early, because I did IU Beginnings, this pre-welcome-week thing. I thought it'd be good for making friends--and it was--but I didn't really want to do it; I just knew that I should. 

I don't know when exactly my opinion of IU changed. I've been thinking about it, and I can't really pinpoint a moment. 

The best moment I can think of is when I moved back, my sophomore year. 

My parents dropped me off at my dorm (yes, I'm in the dorms again), and I remember as I stood there by myself, I just knew that was where I was supposed to be. I was so happy to be back. 

YES, it's cliche. I recognize that. But it's true. At some point, a switch flipped in my brain to where IU is now perceived as home, and my home is viewed as well...a place I visit when I'm seeing my parents or siblings. 

Honestly, now that I've got at least a wee bit of perspective, I don't think it matters nearly as much as we think it does where we go to college. Chances are, you'll find a way to be happy wherever you are. The guidance counselors are right about that. 

But I am so thankful I am not at a more expensive school. At IU, I could get most of my tuition paid for by scholarships. That means I have money to study abroad, and more than once. I have money to pay for room & board and books without having to go into any student debt, which I recognize now is probably one of the best things my parents could have done for me. One of the best things they did may have been talking me out of going to NYU. 

I still love NYU. Still have the sweatshirt, and I still wear it. But there, I would've had to work so hard constantly that I wouldn't have had time to enjoy the city anyway, or even to do extracurriculars. And that stuff's important. More so than we think it is. 

I do love Bloomington, and IU. Maybe it's the Kool Aid they make us all drink as tour guides, but I don't think so. 

I think it's just hard not to like it here. 

About The Author