For my entire life, I dreamed of being a vet, so I only applied to schools that had good resources for that field--and of course, a riding team or club:
- UPenn: This was definitely a "reach" school--as in, "out of reach" financially, but I figured I'd apply just for the heck of it. UPenn's New Bolton Center was in the news a lot when I visited, since in 2006 all of the business with Barbaro was going on. I actually don't think I finished the application properly when I because I didn't see any point in taking the subject ACT tests when I knew I couldn't afford UPenn. Rejected.
- Delaware Valley College: Delaware Valley's equestrian team has a big presence on campus, or so it seemed when I visited it on a rainy, cold spring day my junior year. They also seem to have a very strong program that is based on getting real-life experience supported by a lot of faculty attention. I just didn't see myself meshing there, though. Maybe it was the dreary, small campus, or the fact that nearly every student I saw was practically wearing a uniform--either a sweatshirt from another college (??? Still don't get it.) or an Equestrian Club windbreaker with jeans and sneakers. The sameness really creeped me out, and the school is in the middle of nowhere so I knew I would have no escape. Even though I was accepted to Del Val and UMD, my choice was a no-brainer.
- University of Maryland: Maybe in-state tuition should have been on my radar, but what really drew me to Maryland was an on-campus equestrian club (which turned out to suck), as well as ties to the MD-VA Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.
When the vet supervising me assigned me to dissect a recently-aborted (and still warm) sausage-link string of kittens for the educational value, I decided that I really couldn't handle this (on top of reading boring science reports) for the next eight years. So shortly after my acceptance letter arrived with a pre-veterinary scholarship, I switched my major from Pre-Vet/ Biology to English, the other subject I really enjoyed (and was much better at than science). The switch was very easy to do at such a big state school.
Sometimes I really regret my decision to give up that scholarship--like right now, as I'm looking for jobs and my loan payments loom over my head. But I know that eventually I'll find a job. And I'm glad that I was able to keep what I love as a hobby, a reward, rather than turning it into work.
Keep posted over the next few months to see if I still feel that way when I'm jobless and still living with my parents in August or October. Oh God. I can't even think about it. I'm going to end this post now.
Here's a list of resources for college riders, courtesy of Equisearch:
- Choosing to Ride in College--from the perspective of a Dartmouth student
- College Riding Hones Life Skills--definitely true, especially time management and networking!
- How to Find Equestrian Scholarships for College--high school students, get on this NOW. Scholarship applications of any kind always take way longer than you'll think, and you often need to give teachers or trainers time to write recommendations.