My Almost-Overlooked College Decision

My college decision was far from traditional. I started early, taking advantage of the opportunities my high school gifted program provided to visit schools around my area of Western Pennsylvania. We visited two schools every year, mostly focusing on larger schools that many students from my public high school were interested in. Despite the fact that my school was only 30 minutes from Grove City College, we never visited. I looked at various other schools within my region, both large and small, public and private.

My biggest problem was being too set too early. I was focused on a private school in Pittsburgh, and I thought that it was everything I wanted – $60,000 price tag and all. But boy, was I wrong. I didn’t get into that “school of my dreams,” but I made a plan to attend another school right in Pittsburgh and get the grades to transfer to my dream school. I had one goal and a one-track mind.

After some serious introspection, I realized my goal was just something inflated in my head. I didn’t really like the school for itself, but rather for its name, and that kept me from branching out and looking at all of my options. I ignored the obvious opportunity I had right in front of me – just down the road at Grove City College. As I reached the end of my college search, I realized I was looking at colleges for the wrong reasons. I didn’t want to be far away from my family, and I didn’t actually want to be in a city. In an eleventh-hour change of heart deep into April, I finally listened to my family and gave Grove City a fair chance.

Everything changed once I stepped foot on campus. Somehow, in 18 years living 15 minutes away from the College, I had never actually been on campus. There was something different about this campus that I didn’t experience anywhere else. When I stood between upper and lower campus, looking down past Wolf Creek and up to Rockwell Hall, I didn’t feel like I was in the town I grew up in. I felt like I was truly at college. The more I learned about Grove City College, the more I realized that this was the school for me. It checked every box, including being close to home with competitive academics that would prepare me for dental school, as well as having faculty who were accessible to students, which gave me confidence that I wouldn’t be just a number in a huge class. But beyond those factors, there was just something I felt on campus that drew me in. I immediately finished my application and turned it in with fingers crossed, hoping they would accept me even though I was applying way past the deadline. Soon enough, I received my acceptance letter, which cleared any doubts I had about my future.

Now three years later, as I enter my senior year, I can see how this decision was one of the best I’ve ever made. Grove City College has helped me in so many ways, academically and personally. My advice to any students who have doubts about their college search is that it’s never too late. Don’t settle. Go out and keep looking, because your school is out there. Or, it might be right in front of you, so don’t let the right fit go overlooked just because it seems too familiar. I’ve been in your shoes, and I know how it feels. When you find the school that’s right for you, the doubt will dissipate, and the real excitement will begin as you anticipate making it your home for the next four years.


Student Author – Gage McNeish, ’19

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