Agonizing choice: attend top college?

Antonio Marquez

The two hours I took to to click the “decline” button felt like an eternity of misery and tears.

Since I was a kid, I always wanted to go to a university. And San Diego State University became my dream school to attend because I had the opportunity to visit the campus and imagine what I could achieve there.

It made sense to me: I attended San Diego High School, San Diego City College and then I would go to San Diego State University.

SDSU rejected me once. But I didn’t want to give up and I decided to apply once more. This time I thought I was more prepared.

After speaking to one of the students at City’s Transfer Center I found out I had the chance to apply to three other schools for free. I chose Long Beach State, San Jose State and Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo just to take the chance.

I had never really applied anywhere else because my dream was to be an Aztec. One night I got an email from Long Beach State offering me admission for fall, followed by acceptances from San Jose State and Cal Poly.

The shock I felt can’t be explained in words because all I could do was think what a great opportunity I had in my hands being accepted to Cal Poly, a top school in California.

But I still waited for my acceptance to SDSU. Once again, I was shocked to be rejected.

At this point I had to make a choice among the other three. Maria Elena Delgado, the director of the Price Scholarship Program, talked to me about the importance of attending a top school in California, how many opportunities I would have once I graduated and how I could help other students who would follow me.

So I attended a weekend event at Cal Poly-SLO where freshmen and transfer students are introduced to the school. I saw how the dean spoke to students by their first name and found out class sizes were smaller. I finally saw that it was worth it and felt somehow privileged to be accepted there. I decided to attend in the fall.

Then coming back to reality after that weekend I realized what it would take to attend a university far from home.

I didn’t have a stable job or savings to pay for school. I questioned myself if focusing so much on school and not having a job actually worked against me.

I had Honor classes and extracurricular activities, like being part of the Big Brothers and Big Sister program, but those didn’t provide me with money to move away and attend school.

I understand that it was my fault not applying to scholarships but I honestly never in my wildest dreams thought I would be accepted to a university five hours away.

I declined Cal-Poly’s acceptance — then cried for two hours.

My dream, for now, is one hold. I’m going to take a year, get a stable job, save my money and apply for scholarships. I will find a way to keep going.