At my high school, students of a certain academic caliber were expected to make an "obvious" choice about where they would continue their academic careers: Michigan State or the University of Michigan.
I chose MSU, which baffled a lot of people. To them, MSU was the good school, but U-M was the superior one.
I graduated from high school with honors, participated in several clubs, did hundreds of hours of community service each year and received the esteemed Schaublin Award at graduation, which is the highest honor my high school gives to a senior.
With that said, it appears I'm the ideal "Michigan woman."
There were just two problems: I didn't want the "superior" school and the "superior" school didn't want me.
During my college application process, I didn't receive any invitations to apply and attend U-M's main campus. Despite pleas from my parents and teachers, I chose not to apply there.
I could tell I wasn't wanted there. In spite of my extracurricular resume, I still lacked in some areas, mainly in academics. I wasn't willing to compromise my sanity and sacrifice my passions.
Since I was 12, my passion has been journalism. I knew I would be willing to do almost anything and everything to get into a school with a good journalism program.
Instead of padding my schedule with advanced placement classes to dazzle college admissions officers, I took every single journalism class my high school had and served as student editor on two publications in order to build my resume.
While my classmates spent their summers drowning in summer homework, I was busy designing pages for the yearbook or coming up with new ways to teach AP Style to my staff members. I knew what I wanted to do with my life and I was willing to do anything to get there.
At this point, U-M was just a blip on my radar. It was irrelevant in my eyes and incompatible with my career goals. Even though U-M had a deficit when it came to their journalism offerings, I had still had people around me encouraging me to apply.
The most memorable incident that comes to mind was during my junior year photography class. I was discussing my plans to study photojournalism with my teacher, who happened to be an MSU alumna herself. Those plans have since changed for various reasons — the main one being my lack of talent in that field — but I told her I was considering applying to MSU along with a handful of other schools.
She proceeded to tell me I should focus on getting into art school at U-M instead of going to MSU's School of Journalism. The reason? Because East Lansing is "boring" and MSU doesn't care about their students. Which, to be fair, could be considered valid reasoning — but to me, it seemed liked extremely poor advice from a disgruntled alumna who wished she had gone elsewhere for her undergraduate degree.
As the great Taylor Swift once said, "I shake it off." I shook her comment off and continued through my senior year fully intent on applying to MSU.
Now, three months into freshman year, I can say I don't regret my decision to attend MSU. I never once feel as though this school is "below" me. In fact, I don't think I would've been as challenged as both a student and a journalist anywhere else.
Pedigree shouldn't be the most important matter when it comes to selecting a college. The decision should be based on where you will feel the most at home.
I can truly say "Little Brother" will always have a big place in my heart and I've changed for the better since becoming a Spartan.