“This really is a huge decision.” Alyssa, a student from East Lyme High School in East Lyme, Connecticut, noted as we were pondering her early decision choice. Alyssa had the sensibility to know that choosing between Bowdoin, an excellent small liberal arts college in Maine, and Barnard, the Columbia adjacent excellent college in New York City had implications that were significant beyond the rankings of the college. She then said something quite profound: “most of my choices are really small. This one feels different.”
I spend more time than most pondering the human condition. I think about choices we make and how those choices eventually affect our lives.
I spent about twelve years living in cities. Like most, I felt the urge to help the homeless. Eventually, I came to paradoxical conclusions: it is a strange society that there are those with multiple large houses and those who have no shelter. And, yet, after I spent time as a criminal prosecutor, I also realized that a large number of the homeless (at least in Philadelphia in the 1990s) had made many small bad choices that led them to their situation. Most all were drug addicts. Perhaps the first time trying heroin or a crack was a terrible big decision. But most all had made a series of far smaller unwise life choices previously and then, of course, continued after they crossed the rubicon into hard drugs. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be helped but it does illustrate the point related to life choices.
The whole issue of “college choice” is personally sacred to me not so much from providing college counseling for the last decade plus but because I met my wife in college. A long happy marriage, three children, and…. much of my life… can be traced back to my choice of where to attend college.
College is a big life choice. Some part, of course, is not a choice as college admission factors into the mix. But it matters. A lot.