“You should apply to College of Wooster,” my mom said. “My old college.”
“No, Mom, I don’t want to live in bumf— Ohio,” I said. “Thanks though.”
I had no other rebuttal other than a simple “No.” I didn’t know what else would appeal. As a junior and senior in high school, I was lost and nothing interested me. I tried narrowing down what I wanted by touring local colleges in Boston. The only decision I made was that I wanted a campus and not a city feel.
Major and minor fairs especially used to be my worst nightmare. Every college fair had one, and none seemed interesting to me. Honestly, I thought I was one of the most hopeless students when it came to finding a major. All the other colleges told me I was on my own in figuring it out, and I had no idea how I was just supposed to find something I liked and stick with it.
Ithaca College’s Exploratory Program gave me a home without having to declare a major and the tools to lead me in the right direction.
Before applying, I toured the campus and the President’s Host was a girl from my high school. Although I didn’t recognize her from home, she still felt familiar. On that same tour, I surveyed the student body. At most other schools I toured, I didn’t feel at home with the students. I don’t really know why, but I got that same “at-home” feeling from the tour guide as I did from the passing students.
I fell in love with the city: The Commons welcomed me with all its small businesses; The food I got from the restaurant row was amazing, especially what became my go-to — the California Sunrise from Collegetown Bagels.
When I attended the college’s accepted students day, all the students were split up into their majors but I was introduced to my saving grace: the Exploratory Program. Elizabeth Bleicher, interim director of Student Success and Retention in the Division of Marketing and Enrollment Strategy, explained to us that we were ahead of everyone else. While the other students step back, contemplate what they have already declared and potentially switch around, we were already working on finding the best fit. That moment was the most included I felt at any school.
Part of the Exploratory Program was enrolling in a one-credit seminar called Exploring the Options: Finding Purpose and a Path in College, where we did exactly that. I entered this class on the first day thinking: “This won’t help me with s—.” I was so wrong. One requirement was to study the entire list of majors, cross out the ones we hated, circle the ones that seemed interesting and heart the ones we loved. Of course, mine was mostly crossed out with a few circles. With more research, Integrated Marketing Communications actually interested me. The best piece of advice I got was to use Integrative Core Curriculum classes to hone in on a minor. This helped me discover my place in the Nutrition Promotion Minor and the Legal Studies Minor. It seems all over the place, but I finally figured out what areas of study I wanted to pursue.
I waited until the day before the deadline to accept my place at the college. Even though I knew I would go to the college, declaring seemed to be the scariest thing I could do. I found my home in academics, in friends and my go-to places in the Ithaca community.
Today, I’m supposed to apply to graduate. I’m definitely procrastinating that one because now all I want is to stay put.