I leave you now with some words of wisdom: “Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.” – Malcolm Forbes.

So who am I? My name is Chelsea. As far as TeenInk-related info goes, I am a poet. I write prose occasionally, but my poetry is what’s been published. I am a freshman at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts, and it really is that last tidbit of information that inspired me to begin this TeenInk blogging adventure. You see, everyone has an outlet; a way that they deal with things. For me it helps to write. When I get stressed out, I grab a pen and my journal (or any scrap of paper in reach) and scribble away. What’s been on my mind most recently is my new life. Right now, I’m going through the process of adjusting to college and learning about myself; who I am, what I want, where I’m going. I came from a small town and an even smaller school. My high school, junior high, and elementary school are all within a stone’s throw of each other. Honestly, the campuses overlap in places. The point is, transitioning from a school setting in which I graduated with people who were in my kindergarten class to living 3,000 miles away from home in a major city with people I had never met is not exactly the easiest thing in the world. However, as I have found, and as you will find in future blogs, it is a learning experience in ways that one would not initially expect. When I was presented with this opportunity to write blogs from TeenInk.com I immediately thought that it would be a great way for me to reflect on the things going on in my life because it would give me something to be writing for instead of just scribbling grammatically incorrect notes to myself in my journal. It would also allow me to share my college experiences with you, dear readers, fellow college students, and prospective college students in the hopes that you too may benefit from the things I’m learning.

If you are a 13-19 year old person living in the US, chances are you’re going to school on a fairly regular basis. Chances are, if you’re at the later end of that teenage age spectrum, you’re contemplating the next steps in your education. You may be in college right now and are having to learn to adjust to new surroundings, new people, new experiences; essentially a whole new life. And that can be scary. Others of you are going through the ordeal of looking at colleges. You’re getting the onslaught of information from various schools across the country, input from parents, teachers, and friends, comparing football teams and film programs, and wondering just how accurate the Princeton Review rankings are, and you’re left with the trying task of deciding where to go and what to do. Hello, I’d like to help.

I can’t decide if I want to stay close to him where all my family and a lot of my friends are going to be, or if I should really take the leap and go away for college? 4 years is a long time, but they say it’s the best time — should I experience something new and scary?

“When you leave college, there are thousands of people out there with the same degree you have; when you get a job, there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living. But you are the only person alive who has sole custody of your life.” – Anna Quindlen

The point, my friends, is this: Don’t panic. Don’t worry if you’re a freshman and haven’t even begun to think about a higher education. Chances are, very few other freshmen have. Now this is not to say that researching your school is not important, because it most certainly is, but we’ll discuss what to look for in a school upon a later date. What I’d like to get to now is a point that I think is far too often overlooked by the counselors, teachers, and/or parents who stress starting early and actively looking. And that is, you are the only person who knows what’s best for you. Everyone else can make suggestions but really YOU are the only person who can make the ultimate decision and YOU know what you’re looking for. Best of luck!

Ah, yes. The hunt for schools. Let me start by saying that my mother is the counselor of my high school (though I suppose it’s no longer my high school) so it is essentially her job to help high school students find a school. But things are a bit different when a student happens to be your daughter. So, not surprisingly, my college search process was different from that of most people in similar situations in that it had really started when I was born. I visited colleges for years. I proudly wore my Brown University sweatshirt to school in second grade and scoffed with all the superior dignity my seven year old self could muster at those who asked what “BROWN” meant and why it was written in red and not actually brown. Case and point: getting to where I am now has been something that was literally years in the making. Or has it? What’s interesting is that, while I had visited many schools by the time I actually began the application process, the school I ended up going to was one that I only learned about during my junior year of high school. It’s funny, really, to think about the fact that all the time I spent into looking at schools when I was younger was sort of in vain, given the fact that my current college actually found me rather than the other way around, and this wasn’t until, as I said, just two years ago.