Undecided Abby Thompson

Deciding on the right fit for college is not something that particularly enthralled me. To be honest, going to college in the first place isn’t something I’m all that excited about. Sure, I can’t wait to get away from my dear home in Columbia, Missouri, or, “fly the coop,” as many would say, but I would rather spend some time abroad than just heading straight to college.
So when it came time in early fall for me to start picking colleges to apply to, I really had no idea where to start. Should I choose possible choices based on location (somewhere exotic please), strong majors (it would be useful to know what I would like to study, of course), or simply where my parents suggested (Mizzou)? I ended up applying to a wide range of places, all based on various reasons:
I applied to the University of Alabama — Tuscaloosa because my father completed his residency there. I was born there, so it seemed like a pretty capital idea.
I applied to Duke University as well as the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill because they have strong international studies programs, and I happen to think that North Carolina is a pretty cool place.
I applied to the University of Texas’ McComb Business School just to show my good friend, Alex Burnam, how awesome I am.
I applied to Tulane University because the application was free and took zero effort, and to MU for just about the same reason.
I truthfully have no idea why I applied to the University of Virginia, I just felt a strong urge to do so one day while eating tacos.
I applied to the University of Florida – Gainesville because I would really love to learn to surf, and it’d probably take about 4 years of intense study; coincidentally the time I would spend at that esteemed center of learning to reach a rudimentary level in that particular water sport.
I applied to the University of Miami for exactly the same reason.
I applied to KU to piss my parents off; it worked.
Somehow, I completed all these applications with generic fill-in-the-blank essays, and was amused when my parents erupted with cries of jubilation, triumph, and congratulations every time I received an acceptance letter. Those were the days. Unfortunately, getting accepted is only half the process. After acceptance comes scholarships, housing, vaccinations, registrations and an endless barrage of mail that seems to tell me exactly the same information with every glossy new flier.
After interviews for Texas’s Honors Business School, Alabama’s Blount Undergraduate Initiative, Miami’s Full Ride Singer Scholarship, and countless other additional honors program applications, my choices easily narrowed themselves down for me based on who’s willing to give me the most money. My big choice (cue dramatic music) is now between the University of Alabama – Tuscaloosa and the University of Florida – Gainesville.
While before I hadn’t been able to rouse even a speck of enthusiasm when my parents sparked conversations about where I’m possibly going to spend the next four years of my life, now I feel myself slightly conflicted. I thought I’d be brilliant and come up with a pros and cons chart of each, but that got me absolutely nowhere, as they just about weigh each other out.

University of Alabama – Tuscaloosa

University of Florida – Gainesville

Price (excluding room & board)

Presidential Scholarship (Full)

Gator Nation Scholarship (totals $80,000) leaving $7,000 a year

Strong Areas of Study

Business/marketing, Health Professions, Communications/Journalism

Business/Marketing, Social Sciences, Psychology, Biological/Biomedical Sciences


Total college town

Total college town

Academic Reputation

3/5 stars

4/5 stars

Both schools are large state universities, are located in total college towns, will allow me to participate in honors programs, and have diverse student lives. They also both have strong sports’ cultures, which is a guilty pleasure of mine – going to a school that doesn’t have a strong football team would just be wrong (which completely eliminated about half the places I applied to).
Clearly, both schools are pretty similar, and choosing between the two is going to be tough. Going to Florida based on my need to surf is apparently not enough of a reason, and choosing Alabama just because it’s very, very far away also doesn’t have much credibility. Both colleges will enable me to double major in political science and business-marketing, after which I will continue to get graduate degrees in business and law.
Therefore, I’ve decided to choose my school based on the campus. I visited Alabama last fall, and I have to say, the campus really blew me away. Alabama has roughly the same number of students as MU, but a much, much larger campus, full of huge trees, limestone and brick buildings just bursting with columns, European-looking domes and sloping lawns. I will be visiting Florida next weekend, after which I will decide. Alabama was pretty great, so Florida’s going to have to top that; I’ve heard from many that it just might.
Choosing a college, for me, comes down to where I want to spend the next few years of my life. With these two extremely similar schools, it’s not too hard to picture myself enjoying life both in Tuscaloosa and in Gainesville, so I’m hoping that Florida’s campus makes my decision clear.
By guest writer Abby Thompson