In Westfield, there is an expectation that you will graduate from high school and go on to a traditional four-year college. Something that is talked about far less than your most recent college tours or your placement on Naviance’s scattergrams are the outrageous costs of many schools around the country.
I only applied to four schools, which is quite a low number compared to the range of 10-20 I heard my classmates applying to. At $50-100 per application, this is no small sum. I had my top choice, followed by some safeties, and I felt no need to apply to more than that. I was sure that my top choice was the place for me—until I got my acceptance letter.
From the moment I stepped on to Tulane’s campus I was obsessed with it. The perfect climate, roaring city life, and gorgeous campus beckoned me to spend the next four years of my life there, and I was ready. I all but knew I was going there. The only problem was the $75,000 price tag.
Many people justify this hefty tuition by commenting on how much private universities like Tulane give out in scholarships. Yes, I did receive $18,000 in merit scholarships, but that still leaves an enormous amount of money to pay at the start of each semester. My celebrations after getting in were short lived as my family quickly realized the financial burden that my attendance at my dream school would be.
The day I decided to commit to my second choice, University of Massachusetts Amherst, I cried as I told my mom I wanted to get my commitment over with. That day, I had found out that I had not won either of the Tulane scholarships that I had applied for, which I was hoping would make saying ‘yes’ that much easier. As I scrolled through Instagram looking at people posting their commitments, I decided I was done with the college process.
I cried the entire rest of the night as I paid the non-refundable deposit to UMass, told my closest friends about my college choice, and finally accepted my offer of acceptance. Instead of being excited about my future, I could only think about how much I was missing out on, how much I loved Tulane.
Call me a brat, call me spoiled, but I was offered a spot at my dream school, the place I saw myself more than anywhere else, and I couldn’t go. At the time, it was easy to forget how lucky I am to be able to go to college at all.
To be frank, sometimes I find it hard to feel excited about going to UMass. But the reality is that I will most likely end up in graduate school, and I would be short-sighted, to say the least, to choose a good time in New Orleans that would leave me with more debt and less savings for law school over a more affordable education.
In a town like Westfield, it is hard to admit that price plays a factor in your college decision. In fact, it feels like you’re supposed to go to the best school that you got into, no matter the cost. For endless reasons, that shouldn’t be the case. Whatever factor makes you choose your alma mater is a valid one.