March 28, 2010 I've always loved mail. When I was younger, I was often the first to volunteer to run out to the mailbox in the hopes that something in it was awaiting my eager eyes. Visions of pen-pal letters and American Girl magazines danced in my head. Then came high school, and all of that changed. I started getting pamphlets and brochures from colleges all over the country, and finally the spring of my senior year brought the renumeration for all of my hard work. Trips to the mailbox were just as exciting, but in a very different way. Getting acceptance letters was a thrill, especially when Hamilton's came.
Since I live relatively close to Hamilton, the letter actually came before the online announcement that you probably received first. My dad picked me up from work and I asked if anything had come in the mail. He said no. I was definitely bummed, but it turned out that my dad was just really good at keeping a straight face. I opened the door to my house and there sat my younger sister, holding an envelope — the fat kind! — and beaming. If you are having a difficult time deciding between schools, generally a good indicator of where you should go is how you reacted to each of your acceptances. I was really happy when I heard from some of the others, but I was overjoyed when I heard from Hamilton.
Another tip: think back to your visit to campus. If you haven't visited yet, DO IT. Getting a good vibe is really important, and sometimes the really little things matter more than you would think. For example, on my tour of Hamilton, my mom was really impressed with a student who held the door open for us in Beineke — not only did he hold the door open, but he took out his earphones in doing so. My mom was very insistent that that was a good sign because it was a polite thing to do. Now that I look back on it, my mom might be crazy, but she's right. I learned very quickly that Hamilton people are really good-natured and genuine. Sometimes during your campus visit, these small things will be unexpectedly revealing. At one point on my tour, a "Come to Hamilton!!" cheer from a current student crossing Martin's Way bridge was all I really needed to hear. A nice chat with a fellow prospective student who shared my interests (and who I now know through the Spectator among other things — hey Nora!) was particularly refreshing. And for some reason, the Adirondack chairs in the Beineke sunroom were like the cherry on top of the world's best sundae.
Earlier today I went with my sister to check out Ithaca College, and I went on my first campus tour since high school. My sister is thinking of applying there, and so this time the spotlight was on her. For once I didn't have to think about whether I liked it there or not! Of course, I definitely caught myself comparing everything to Hamilton and thinking to myself that Hamilton was just plain better — which is not necessarily the case. I think the reason why I felt that Hamilton surpassed Ithaca on so many levels was because I'm so used to it here. It's my second home. And no matter where you end up, chances are you'll feel the same way. Now that you've been accepted, relax! Take some time to think about where you felt most comfortable. Visit again if need be. But just remember that if Hamilton's right for you, you'll know not by analyzing the student-faculty ratio or course catalogue, but by walking around and taking note of the intimate details. Making a decision is hard, but it doesn't have to be if you think about it in the right way.