Why I Decided to Go to College


Choosing to go away for college was one of the most challenging decisions I had to make as a teenager leaving high school. But as a young adult looking back on my journey, I can see that it was also the most rewarding decision I had made. Growing up in a neighborhood in Brooklyn around the same people, looking at the same old blocks with the same secret hiding spots – it felt like a world that was molded specifically to fit around me. The idea of going to college and leaving my neighborhood back in Brooklyn was a path filled with uncertainty and unanswered questions, ‘What if I apply and don’t get in? What if I do get in and fail when I get there? Can I really do this?’ Living in a world filled with constant change, it was scary to be uncertain of what the future might bring.

The idea of going away for college appealed to me because it gave me an opportunity to leave my neighborhood, which was the only place I had ever known, and experience something new. It gave me hope that I could live a different life and achieve greater goals. However, to those in my neighborhood, the idea of success was not defined by a college education. Instead, success was defined as independence and reputations. The idea of selling drugs, making money, foreign cars and brand name clothing was glorified not only in the media and music, but in my neighborhood as well. My best friend, who was my backbone growing up, viewed college to be for “privileged white people” as she found happiness in relationships, drugs and money. But as I looked around my neighborhood, I realized that while staying in Brooklyn was one way to live, it was not the only way to live. I couldn’t let others define my life, happiness, and choices. I wanted more than just the familiarity of Brooklyn Blocks. Although I felt that I was losing a part of myself in leaving for school, I knew I was gaining the ability to say that – I haven’t made it yet, but I’m on my way. It was a change that only I could see happening, and although there was always that possibility that I could fail, I couldn’t let fear control the direction of my journey.

Just as much as life is filled with choices, sometimes it is also filled with sacrifices. The application to college was my choice for a new identity. It was the choice to take on the challenge of trying new things despite how scary it may be. With that choice, I sacrificed a lot; I sacrificed the familiar feeling of my neighborhood, I sacrificed the feeling of support from family and friends, and most of all, I sacrificed the reputation of what my peers defined to be successful. I figured the best way to shape my new identity, was to live and learn. The fear of uncertainty was always in my head during my transition to college, but I couldn’t let the fear of something new be the excuse to give up before getting in the game. For the incoming college students who are on the journey of entering college, never mind searching for the simplest and most comfortable option, search for the person you aspire to be and go for it. Embrace the uncertainty, the fear, the unanswered questions, and welcome the new opportunities, experiences and memories you are about to encounter.  Although our ability to dream could get us to a place we’ve never been before, it takes dealing with adversity and using grit to keep us there.

Mona, Class of 2015

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