March 25, 2011 My college process begun earlier, and ended later, than that of almost anyone I know. Between the spring of my junior year and that of my senior year, I visited 27 schools, from D.C to Scotland, filled out 12 painstaking applications, wrote countless essays, interviewed, calculated and analyzed and begged to get in. Hamilton, I applied to almost by accident. Emily, my best friend from high school, dragged me to an information session, telling me it was somewhere I would like. I had heard of the school, my mother had even considering transferring there when she was in college, but I already had so many applications that I did not want to think of adding another. I went, however, and was intrigued, so I sent in my application and waited.
Fall turned into mid-winter, I had my Hamilton interview with an alumnus at the Panera bread on York Road, and we ate bowls of cheddar broccoli soup and talked for over two hours. He told me about how he missed Upstate New York, the different sides of campus, how one of his favorite things in all of his time there were the hours when he played the saxophone on the student radio, between two and three in the morning on Tuesday nights. “There was no one else there but me, two or three kids up writing papers who happened to be listening, and the snow falling outside. I loved Hamilton.” Bizarre as this memory was, it struck a cord with me, and I stayed to listen to him reminisce.
Weeks passed, whatever little snow there was on the ground in Baltimore melted, and suddenly it was spring. I checked my application status at the end of March, and learned that I had been waitlisted. I went up to visit for the first time with my Dad, and loved the campus, despite the lingering cold. I did not know if I would get in, however, and after weeks of stressed deliberation, wrote out my deposit check to Kalamazoo College in Michigan. April 30th came around, and I got a call from the Hamilton Admissions office. They left me a message, but when I called back, the office was closed.
The next day, May 1st, was decision day, and I boarded a bus for New York City with my Art History class, telling my mother to wait to mail the check until after I heard from Hamilton. Out of my entire, drawn-out, painful college process, I remember the next hour with perfect, vibrant clarity. I was leaning against the bus window, half-asleep as we came out of the Lincoln Tunnel and into New York, when my phone rang, and Jay Bonham, (the Associate Dean of Admissions and the Mid-Atlantic representative who had come to visit my school) offered me a place at Hamilton. I said yes, called my mother in the first moment of gleeful, heartbreaking joy I had had about a college, and yelled, almost hysterically into my phone, “Tear up the check. I’m going to Hamilton!!!”
Three years have passed since that morning, and I have fallen more deeply in love with the school every week. I know this is the day when all of the applicants learn their admissions decision, and want to impart a few not-so-sage bits of wisdom. First, Congratulations to all of you who got in! Applying to college is long, stressful, and more taxing than probably any academic thing you have yet done. And now it is over, and the fun part begins. For those of you who did not (and this is coming from a girl who had quite a few rejections), you will still end up somewhere wonderful, and might find that you will be happy at any number of schools. Secondly, I could not be happier with my school than I am with Hamilton. I have been abroad in Paris for the last three months, and miss it almost every day. My calendar on my wall is scenes from around campus, I try to re-create sandwiches from Opus with strange Parisian Cheddar and the other night woke up thinking I was back in my room at Keehn.
I am in one of the most beautiful, exciting cities in the entire world, and, despite how very much I love it here, would sometimes give anything to be back in my waffle-cielinged single, watching the snow fall outside and laughing with friends until I am dizzy. I could enumerate the reasons for my love, could perhaps tell you the small classes make for great student-professor relations (I spent last summer on an archaeological dig in Greece with my Art History professor, on a grant from the school), that upstate New York is the most beautiful place to live (and does have a lot to do, despite being rather remote!), that the people here are among my favorite in the entire world (read any of my journal entries, even ones since I came to Paris, and this much will be obvious).
But I will finish here, leave the decision up to you, and simply say the following: No matter where you go, you will thrive, make friends with some of the most wonderful people you will ever know, learn more than you ever thought you could cram into your brain. But most of all, you will grow up, and I just happen to think Hamilton is an especially wonderful place to do it. So congratulations. Acceptance is a wonderful thing. Welcome to the rest of your lives.