I am not good at making decisions. Simply ask my sisters, parents, or friends who go shopping with me. I look at the shelves of lamps, the racks of shirts, the boxes of macaroni and cheese, and I just get overwhelmed. I spend thirty minutes deciding between two different pieces of jewelry and usually end up buying both, either because I cannot handle being so stressed about making a choice, or the person I am dragging around cannot handle being so stressed by watching me make a choice.
So when it came to choosing which music school to attend, which was the biggest decision I had had to make at that point in my life, it was a big struggle for me. I applied to seven schools. Three of them were music conservatories, two were universities with huge music programs, and the other two were big schools with smaller music programs. After I submitted my applications and finished my auditions for all of the schools I applied to, I did not let myself hope that I would get into my dream school, one of the conservatories. But when I was informed that I was accepted to my dream school two days before I was obligated to inform all schools which program I chose, and after I had already picked DePaul, I felt stuck. Here I was, standing in the hypothetical shopping aisle. In one hand, I was holding a small, competitive conservatory I had strived to get into for years and always thought I would love. In the other hand, I held a university in a fantastic city, with an incredible cello teacher, and much more of a liberal arts experience. So, I followed my instincts and chose the unexpected.
After a couple days of intense prayer, reflection, heart-to-hearts, and talks with prospective music professors, I chose DePaul. How did I have such a big change of heart in a matter of days? There were many logical factors that pushed me toward DePaul, including the fact that my identical twin sister was also interested in the conservatory and we had wanted to go to different colleges, but there were also deeper realizations about what I actually wanted to experience in college that hit me as I grappled with this decision.
As I debated between these two very contrasting school environments, cities, and college experiences, I discovered that being a student at DePaul seemed so much more appealing to me. I realized that when I thought about going to college, I always envisioned being on a beautiful, big campus that was full of a variety of schools and majors. I wanted to be surrounded by history, architecture, and nature. I wanted to be classmates with people whose majors were completely unrelated to mine, and with people who grew up in very different economic, religious, and physical backgrounds so I could learn more about the diversity of my generation. I craved to feel like I was in college while also gaining experience in this oh-so-scary “real world” everyone kept informing me about at every dinner party my parents ever threw. After talking with my future cello teacher and emailing with a current School of Music student, I saw that DePaul had these aspects I had been hoping for. Being in Chicago, a city with a very strong and diverse music scene and a great amount of history and sites to see, attending a school with a student population of 25,000, and being able to grow greatly in my musical aspirations, were my expectations and my actual experiences as a student at DePaul.
As I enjoy my senior year at DePaul and reflect on those two days of panic and difficulty, I am grateful I took the time to truly step back and ask myself, “Is this what I want?” I definitely heard strong, contrasting opinions about this major decision, but in the end, I felt it within myself. I envisioned myself walking the streets of Lincoln Park, wearing a DePaul sweatshirt and carrying a cello on my back. I saw myself growing into the person I wanted to be at DePaul, as I encountered many different cultures and ideas and grew in my faith. I chose DePaul for many reasons, but what really moved me to choose this school was that I finally felt at peace when I let myself say yes.