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Bella Dunbar: Is college choice the end? No, it’s a new beginning

May 10, 2018

College Decision Day passed just over a week ago and, with relatively little fanfare, it marked a momentous landmark along the path of students everywhere.

It is a day for celebration: congratulating seniors on making a difficult decision and all the work that led up to it. However, the date also comes with the baggage of making such a seemingly earth-shattering choice. The stress, the urgency, the uncertainty, and, oftentimes, the disappointment are all pieces of College Decision Day as well.

In this way the date, May 1, was aptly chosen. May Day is itself a day of innocuous general celebration. Coincidentally, the name of the holiday also holds a double meaning as an internationally recognized signal for distress (Mayday! Mayday!).

While this parallel isn’t perfect, it certainly seems fitting for College Decision Day. There is both the association of lightened glee and of panicked urgency.

As a result of this layered meaning, it’s important to keep straight what exactly College Decision Day is celebrating. Colleges and universities are not titles or end goals. And yet, during high school, they tend to be simplified into those very labels.

Many students begin to view them as the culmination of all the hard work put in throughout high school. In doing this, the decision process ceases to be just about additional schooling, but also about validation.

Recognition is a valuable part of any type of success; it is, however, not the purpose of college acceptance or rejection letters. Whatever accomplishments have been made are not inherently lessened or heightened by how colleges receive them. The amount of skill, time, effort, and care stays the same — as does any improvement or personal growth they caused.

An end-goal mindset also causes colleges to be seen as destinations rather than new stretches of road in a student’s journey. It is an exciting experience to look forward to, yes, but its worth lies in the opportunities provided upon arrival; this is so much more than what a simple “recognition” process would entail.

College Decision Day is a road stop to recognize how much has already been done, and to celebrate what this new path opens up for the future.

Perhaps more than anything else, the sole act of making a decision deserves commemoration. Though different students face different levels of difficulty, they all have similar stressors. Settling on a university, a technical college, a gap year, or any other post-high school path means dealing with weighing extensive private factors in a relatively public decision making process.

College Decision Day is worth celebrating, not because of the “title” the choice awards, but because of the future opportunities and past strife it represents.