What It’s Really Like: I Fell in Love With My Last Choice School

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The University of Georgia was my last choice.

Like, way at the bottom of the list. I had no desire to attend a university in the South. In fact, I really only applied to The University of Georgia to appease my parent’s wishes.

I wanted to head north.

The 17th-century brick buildings, tree-lined quads, and riding boots as far as the eye could see, attracted me to schools that rhymed with Drown and Carnard. Of the 12 or so colleges that I applied to, only two were in Georgia: The University Of and another not-to-be-named college that had such an easy application, my mother filled it out.

I envisioned myself going to a top liberal arts college or university, far away from my southern roots. I saw myself spending my spring break at my friend’s house on The Cape and texting with a Kennedy or two.

I did not see myself sweating from August-October, as I took English classes with kids who grew up on farms and spoke with romantic southern accents. I did not even fathom attending a football game with 92,746 fans screaming in my face.

But, I did.


When financial aid packages from what I perceived as “We Are Better Than You” universities came rolling in, they didn’t look promising. While the money I received from these schools was okay, it was not enough to lure me away from the HOPE scholarship, a state-funded program, where your tuition is covered if you meet certain academic requirements.

My parents were very supportive and told me that I could go wherever I wanted, but warned me that, if I made the choice to attend a “We Are Better Than You”, I’d have to cover the cost.

As you can imagine, I turned down those loans pretty quickly and signed myself up for student housing in a run-down dorm in Athens, Georgia. It was the best decision I could have ever made.

Read more: What It’s Really Like: Why I Quit Pursuing Medicine to Follow My Passion

Attending the University of Georgia allowed me to create my own fake northern university experience. I took small, discussion-based classes as a member of the Honors program, studied under Oxford professors, and participated in four study abroad programs.

In the end, it was a no brainer. Why put myself through all of that debt, when I could shape my own intellectually-challenging environment for basically no money? Besides those mysterious “Institutional Fees,” of course.

Had I not attended The University of Georgia, I would not have been able to pursue so many “You Only Live Once” opportunities in such a short amount of time.

All because I picked my last choice.

Madeline Hill is a student at the University of Georgia, a freelance writer and digital strategist. When she’s not watching foreign movies on Netflix, she’s busy working on her book of short stories.

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