Risk and Return

“You’re not going to Madison?”: Senior year of high school was filled with drama, goodbyes, and most importantly, your acceptance letter into University of Wisconsin-Madison. Every Friday past November 1st you would anxiously refresh your email to see if your portal was updated and if you were accepted, waitlisted, or denied. For most people in Madison, this portal update made or broke their lives. My view on this situation was different though, I applied, I got in, and I never really saw the hype around going to Madison. It is such a great school, but why would I want to go to a school that was 5 miles away from my house? So I chose a school that was roughly 1,000 miles away.

“Why did I come here”?: When I left Wisconsin, I couldn’t have been happier. I was excited to meet new friends that I wasn’t forced to be friends with through countless years of knowing each other. I was also excited to go somewhere that I didn’t know a single person, and I mean a single person. I didn’t think it was going to be hard making friends, everyone always talks about their dorms friends and I was planning on rushing 2 weeks into the school year. I was wrong. My floor ended up only having 3 dorms on it, for various reasons, and wasn’t as social as the dorms my older friends described. It was pretty much impossible to make a single friend besides my roommate. Rushing really didn’t help this situation either. Madison’s out of state was roughly equivalent to Boulder’s, where ⅔ of the undergraduate students were in-state and most likely all went to the same high school or from the same area. I felt isolated, and farther away from home than I ever have. I would call my mom crying every night about how I was lonely, vulnerable, and how I wanted to come home and go to Madison. I went home almost every other weekend and I thought about transferring back home almost every day, and even filled out an application to attend Madison in the Spring. I decided to wait out transferring until the end of the year and hoped that things would get better later on in the year. After winter break, things turned around. I started to make friends in my sorority, dorm, classes, along with friends of friends. I began to realize all the perks going out of state and out of my comfort zone had.

“I am so happy I came here”: Looking back almost two years later I couldn’t have made a better decision. I branched out from doing the stereotypical Madison kid’s college choice and the perks are endlessly paying off. I was able to find the edges of my comfort zone and surpass them. I also was able to gain characteristics that I never knew I could possess. This experience, even though it seems like a small decision, shaped who I am today and who I will continue to be. I look back at everyone who went to Madison, or stayed in state, and see that they are the same people they were when they graduated 2.5 years ago. They still have the same friends, have the same comfort zone, and have gained no new qualities that will last a lifetime. Being the only person within a 400 person graduating class to go out of state has it’s risks, and could have failed miserably through the inability to make friends, gain new characteristics, and by going home 4 months after I left. I broke the stereotype through this decision and am able to say that I am my own person with newly discovered characteristics that I will be forever grateful for.18sq1jzto6rmljpg

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4 thoughts on “Risk and Return

  1. Nicole,
    I feel the same way about leaving home! I am lucky enough to have an incredible school just twenty minutes from my house, University of New Hampshire, but like you I wanted to see more of the country! I am relieved to hear that other people had such a hard time adjusting as well, because first semester for me was really tough. When it was all new and exciting it was great, but once reality set in it was so so bad. I like you spent a lot of tearful calls with my parents. However we have learned so many life lessons that we don’t even realize that otherwise we may not have learned until moving around in the work world!

  2. Hi Nicole! I think so many people have that feeling freshmen year. A lot of people decide that they want to go to college back home after feeling any type of discomfort in a new place. I know so many people that ended up doing that! A lot of them are happy they chose to go home, but others regret their decision. I always felt that going to school in my home town would be like high school round two. It’s so easy to fall back into your old high school routine when you’re surrounded by the same kids every day. That’s awesome that you stuck it out and that you ended up loving it here!

  3. I was in a similar situation coming to CU. I’m from Iowa so all of my high school friends are either at ISU or Iowa. My first time actually being in Boulder was a couple weeks before classes started, and I didn’t know a single person in Colorado. Fortunately for me, I immediately made very close friendships with other incoming freshmen in NROTC. The CU Triathlon team was also another new “family” for me, where I’ve grown close to other members. Heading off to a distant college can be hard, but it gets easier once you find people with similar values and interests.

  4. Nicole,

    I actually chose between here and Madison. I think we can agree that that this is the right choice. It’s interesting to get the perspective of someone from Madison; my roommate went to Boulder high school which is just down the street from us. I imagine that must be weird.

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