An unfortunate part of my nature is my tendency to worry too much. Sometimes, a small amount of worry is a good thing, since it can focus me on my deadlines and motivate some serious hard work to achieve them. More often, too much worry overcomes me, and I fret and flutter about things that don’t even deserve the attention, avoiding the task that really needs to be worried over. Last summer, I did just that, and it wasn’t until my dad called me out on it that I really began to understand what was going on.
Last June, I began an intensive self-assigned research project into higher education, and it was both exhaustive and exhausting. I scoured the websites of various colleges and universities in the US and Canada. I perused rankings of degree programs from US News. I investigated study abroad opportunities. I analyzed and scrutinized, worried and fretted. I compiled spreadsheets of qualifications, bought books on college choice, and did the very worst thing I could possibly have done it that situation - asked my co-workers for advice
I spent the summer working at an aquarium full of marine biologists, ecologists, fishermen, and college students, and not a single one of them gave me the same piece of college advice as another. There was a loose general consensus among the researchers that out-of-state schools were a better investment than in-state-schools, while the hatchery technicians were staunch supporters of the local training programs. One college sophomore tour guide was firmly convinced of the superior quality of private schools (and wasted little time in telling me so), and the director of educational outreach warned me repeatedly against accruing too much debt in my quest for greater knowledge. Then the alma mater appeals started coming. Go to Tufts! my manager said, It’s a great investment! Not so, cried the lead docent, Western Washington has much better environmental science programs! Just stop giving me conflicting advice about this incredibly important and terrifying life choice! thought the thoroughly overwrought soon-to-be senior, who just wanted to get her life sorted out as painlessly as possible.
Alas, it was not to be. I was able to withstand the...