Saving the Best for Last
It turns out, sometimes you make the best decisions of your life at the absolute last minute. My senior year of high school was spent obsessing over what college would be the best fit for me. At last, I had a refined list on my Common App of only the best picks for me… and even that list ended up being 13 colleges long. I pictured myself at a medium to large-sized school near a city. The final college that I ended up submitting a last-minute application for, however, was a small liberal arts university hidden away near the Adirondacks. To this day, I have no idea why I initially applied in the first place, but boy am I glad I did.
With my ski racing season coming to an end and my college acceptances coming in, I started making plans for touring schools. However, in my final ski practice of the season, I had a crash that resulted in a torn ACL and months of crutches, surgery, recovery, and crutches again. Tours had to be pushed to April, and with only one month to decide, I had to cram them in. St. Lawrence, not exactly the size and location I was looking for at the time, didn’t originally make the packed touring schedule for April. However, as I crutched across campus after campus, nothing seemed right. My parents finally suggested that maybe we give St. Lawrence a look. We signed up for the last Accepted Students’ Day in late April, and we made the trek through the Adirondacks to a school I knew little about but had all my hopes on as the last college left on my list. We arrived in the North Country in the middle of a blizzard, and as we drove past fields and farms, I started to panic that my final option wasn’t going to have results any better than the other schools I toured.
They say that the weather is what makes or breaks your impression of a college tour. The day I toured SLU for the first time, there was so much fog you could barely see Kirk Douglas Hall from the Chapel. The sleet was so bad on the pavement that I had to crutch on the grass to keep my crutches from slipping out from under me. My parents begged me to accept the offer of a golf cart ride, but there was no way I was going to attract any more unwanted attention than I had to. Despite all the drawbacks, the class I sat in on showed me the individualized education you could receive at a small school, the emphasis on community was unlike any large school I stepped foot on, and the smiles on every students' face told me everything I needed to know. I finished the day knowing that St. Lawrence was the only place I could envision myself for college, even though it had taken me so long to figure that out.
The sleet turned to rain, and my mom and I ducked under the large tent set up for the Folk Festival outside the Student Center. As I told her that I loved everything about this place, with my hair soaking wet and my teeth chattering from the cold, she looked at me in disbelief. Before long, disbelief turned to tears, and tears turned to smiles. We left campus feeling more hopeful than we had when we arrived.
Turns out, it was a little too hopeful-my dad forgot to fill the car with gas, the rain turned back to sleet, and we were very close to being stranded in the middle of the Adirondacks with no visibility, gas, or cellphone service. But at least I could finally throw away my long list of possible colleges, for I had found St. Lawrence at last. (But seriously, make sure you have a full tank of gas on your drive through the Adirondacks!)