choosing a college

"Why I Wish I Had Chosen Better"

By: Gen & Kelly Tanabe authors of Get Into Any College: Secrets Of Harvard Students, Get Free Cash For College: Scholarship Secrets Of Harvard Students, and founders of where you'll find more tips, secrets, and strategies. Copyright 2000.

The following story comes from a student we interviewed for the first edition of our book Get Into Any College: Secrets Of Harvard Students We were collecting what we called "Stories From Real Life," brief narratives to give readers a chance to learn from students who had gone through the admissions process and hear about their experiences in their own words. Not all of the stories were about success, as you will see from this warning by a student named Aaron.

The following is his story in his own words:

When I was a senior in high school I had no idea where I wanted to go to college. I remembered someone saying good things about "California College." (This is a fictitious name since I do not want to offend this very real school.)

One day I received an information packet from California College. Inside was a beautiful full-color brochure which unfolded into this gorgeous picture of the school. Along with the pictures were dozens of testimonials by students and faculty praising the small student-to-teacher ratio and wonderful extracurricular activities. After reading all these good things and seeing the fantastic pictures, I felt that I just had to apply to this school. I quickly returned the reply card and a few weeks later received an application.

I spent several weeks filling out the application. When I received my acceptance letters, I only had to look at the happy students in the California College brochure to make up my mind. I wanted to be one of those smiling students. On August 25th my parents and I arrived at LAX. We rented a car and headed off to my new home of the next four years.

Following the instructions that the college sent, we drove for hours, switching from freeways to state highways then to city streets and finally turning onto what looked like a country road. As we got farther and farther away from civilization I grew more and more uneasy. When we finally reached the school, it was so far from any town—much less a city—that I wondered how it could have looked so urban in the picture. I took out the brochure. Sure enough there were the three modern looking buildings as pictured, but what the brochure didn’t show was that these were the only modern buildings on campus. Everything else looked like residential homes or forest reserve. There was so much nature and the campus was so quiet. I suppose that if I had been raised in an isolated hamlet in the Sierra Nevada mountains, I might have found this place reminiscent of home. But being from a rather large Southern city, I had wanted to go somewhere a little more cosmopolitan.

I lasted a semester before I went totally crazy. Then I transferred. This time I made sure that I visited the campuses and talked to students before I made a decision. It cost me a semester of happiness, but I had learned my lesson.

-Aaron, who is now a happy urban student at UCLA.

Thank you for visiting,

Al Brouillard

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