’21
Noella
Brea, CA
Political Science and International Studies

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How I Got Here

September 17, 2017

Here’s a secret: UR was not my first choice school.  It wasn’t even my second, third, or fourth choice school.  UR was actually the school I removed from my initial college list in July and didn’t add back until December (a week before the app was due).  

Now, you’re probably confused.  Maybe you even double checked to make sure you read all that correctly.  You might be asking, “But Noella, aren’t you a freshman at UR right now? Didn’t your Instagram and Facebook posts both say that you committed in April?  Aren’t you happy?”  And the answer to all those questions is yes.

From junior year of high school, I knew I wanted to go to a liberal arts college.  I knew I wanted to be part of a campus where I was an individual, not a number.  I knew that I could not and would not be majoring in something involving lots of math.  I also knew that I wanted to be out of state, somewhere that actually has all the seasons (even though I love California sunshine) and wanted to live within proximity to a major city.  With these in mind, I built my college list with most of my schools scattered throughout the New England area.

June 2016.  My mom was the first one who told me about the University of Richmond.  For weeks, she kept going on and on about how great the school was and how pretty the campus looked on Google images.  Most of the time, I tuned her out or pretended to be sleeping.  Eventually, because I am the teenager I am, I added it to my list just to get her to stop nagging and put it in the waaaay back of my mind.  Like, further back than Calculus (which is pretty far back).

July 2016. I removed UR from my list.  First, because after living in Southern California my whole life, I had no clue where Virginia was on the US map (and yes, I know that in fifth grade everyone learns their states and capitols, but it’s been awhile since I’ve had to label all fifty states).  Second, the mascot was a spider (yes, this was apparently important to me.  I don’t know why.)  Third, there are no direct flights from LA to Richmond, so I would always have to have a layover.  

December 2016.  December consisted of coffee, deadlines, constantly checking essay word counts every three sentences, and trying to find a deeper meaning behind life for an essay topic.  In the midst of studying for finals and keeping up with a bunch of deadlines, I was hit with a wave of anxiety.  I looked at my unnecessarily long college list (way more than fifteen) and convinced myself that I wouldn’t be able to get in anywhere and that I needed more schools “just in case.”  After freaking out for a solid fifteen minutes and googling the acceptance rates for all my schools, I remembered the one school my mom raved about for a solid month during summer.  After not even thinking about UR for four months, I added it back to my CommonApp.  I wrote the essays in a week and sent it in.

March 2017.  I got an acceptance letter from the school.  I was happy.  My mom was ecstatic.  I still didn’t see myself as a student at UR.  My mom booked tickets for the Admitted Students Day, ignoring my protests.

April 2017.  I googled “Where is Virginia on US map.”  I googled “Where is Richmond on Virginia map.”  My layover in Chicago got delayed two hours.  I set foot in Virginia for the first time and the city of Richmond.  I toured the school with hundreds of other admitted students and was blown away by the beauty of the campus and the facilities it provides.  I committed to UR as soon as I got back to my hotel room back from the campus.  The rest of the night, I looked at Google Images of the campus, read all the “fast facts” listed on the website, and fell in love with Richmond.  No regrets.

And now, for some lessons that I learned that might benefit someone out there.  

  1. Start making your college, but don’t limit yourself to that list.  It’s okay to be halfway through November and find that some schools aren’t for you and some schools really are.  

  2. It’s okay if a school isn’t love at first sight. UR and I got together for a week, took a four month break, hit the “it’s complicated” stage of the relationship, and now we’re basically getting married.  

  3. Please, for the love of yourself and sleep, do not write all your essays one week before the deadline.  I know I admitted to doing this for my UR app, but do not do what I did for every single one of your schools.  Start in the summer.  Start. In. The. Summer.

  4. It’s okay to be scared about moving more than 2000+ miles away from home, all the way across the country.  I still am.  It’s also okay to be scared about going 20 miles from home.  College is… I don’t even know what it is.  It just is, and it’s going to be great.

  5. Listen to your mom.  

So, here’s to Richmond.  Here’s to me buying an actual raincoat and jacket last week.  Here’s to three hour time differences.  Here’s to me tearing up at the thought of leaving LA, but also tearing up at how beautiful my school is.  Here’s to me trying to be friends with people who live in Richmond and own dogs that I can pet.  Here’s to the first year of college.  It’s going to be great.  

Hey everyone! My name is Noella and I'm a freshman at the University of Richmond.  I was born in Los Angeles, California and grew up in Orange County in a city that’s 20 minutes from Disneyland (but I just tell everyone I’m from LA because it’s easier). And no, I do not run into celebrities all the time and yes, it is true that California’s definition of winter is any weather that hits below 70 degrees.  I’m an avid coffee drinker, chocolate eater, and deep sleeper.  I also tend to go out of my way and intentionally take alternate routes just to ask people if I can pet their dog.  Anyways, I think I want to major in political science and international studies with a minor French, but who knows.  We’ll see where this journey takes me.  

Why UR?

Why a liberal arts college?  Because I knew I wanted a small classroom setting rich with opportunity.  I wanted to be a unique individual, not just a number among thousands of other students.  Why Virginia?  Because I wanted to experience “real” weather.  Because I wanted to see if I could survive on my own.  Why Richmond?  Because I couldn’t bear to be stuck in the middle of nowhere;  I needed to be at least an hour away from a major city.  Why UR?  Because it took every single answer to the questions above, combined it together, and added a touch of “home.”  It’s where I belong.