Sunday, August 29, 2010

College Obsession

Junior and senior year of high school, I obsessed about college. I swear I did not have a single conversation over those two years that did not touch on the topic of college in some way. Of course, this was not helped by the fact that when one is that age, everyone begins every conversation by asking, "So where are you applying?" And as soon as you can answer that, they begin asking, "So where are you going to go?" And as soon as you can answer that, they ask, "So what's your major?" And then, "What are you going to do after you graduate?" Really, it's enough to make anyone high-strung, and I was high-strung enough to begin with. (I am, after all, the person who had a mid-life crisis at age ten because I didn't know what my career goals were yet. Incidentally or not-so-incidentally, that's when I decided to become a writer. But that's another story.)

I had stacks and stacks of brochures from colleges. I sent away for the promotional videos. I made endless lists of pros and cons... You see, I knew that this was a Big Moment. Whichever direction I went, it would influence what I would do and who I would become. A lot of times, we have Big Moments and have no control over them or don't even recognize them as they happen, but I knew this was one and I had at least the illusion of control over it. Hence the freaking out.

My new novel ENCHANTED IVY is about Lily Carter, a 16-year-old caught in that pre-college obsession. Unlike the 16-year-old me, she knows where she wants to go: Princeton University. She just doesn't know if she's going to get in.

She also doesn't know that Princeton is a portal to a magical realm. If I'd known that, I totally would have done Early Decision.

As it was, I didn't end up deciding where to go until April of my senior year, a few days before the answer was due. After all my careful research and all my lists of pros and cons, I chose Princeton because of the trees. Seriously. I saw the arch of elm trees over Washington Street, and I was sold. In retrospect, this is perhaps not the best way to choose a college. But I loved it there. And it led to this book. So feel free to draw whatever moral you'd like from that. :)

44 days until ENCHANTED IVY!

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At 11:16 PM, Blogger Leah Cypess said...

Apparently Princeton attracts a certain type. At the age of 12, my husband was worried because he hadn't published any papers yet.

Can't wait for Poisoned Ivy!

At 11:48 PM, Blogger Sarah Beth Durst said...

Leah: Comforting to know I'm not the only one. :)

At 12:10 AM, Anonymous AnnaDee said...

I'll be a senior this year, so i'm starting to fall into the obsession. mostly i want to go back to being 5 years old, but...
anyway, *i* can't wait for E.I! It's going to be freaking awesome!

At 6:54 AM, Blogger Laura said...

Gos, if my collage was like that, i would've stayed outside everyday, every break time, just to be by those tree's to see if they WERE magic. =D

At 9:40 AM, Blogger Q said...

Hey, I picked my college at least in part because of the uncanny resemblance it bears to Hogwarts...

At 1:57 PM, Blogger Deva Fagan said...

I chose my college (Bowdoin) because of the sun insignia, polar bear mascot, and the fact that one of the buildings looked like a great horned owl to me.

Really looking forward to ENCHANTED IVY! I grew up in Princeton Junction and love the Princeton campus. It always felt magical to me!

At 11:00 PM, Blogger Sarah Beth Durst said...

AnnaDee: In retrospect, I think the whole college experience has a lot more to do with what you choose to do with your time than where you are... which means it's tough to make a wrong choice... which means: don't worry! You'll be fine! Good luck!

Laura: I did do a lot of tree-admiring while I was there. I also walked through the gardens en route to class nearly every day, regardless of whether the gardens were actually on the way or not.

Q: I think that's a perfectly valid reason. :)

Deva Fagan: Feeling mascot envy... Hope you enjoy Enchanted Ivy!

At 7:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dragged my sister to three different universities (in the one city during summer) and the last one I visited had the tour winding down. I was tired and wanted to go home but then I saw the green fields, trees and the lily padded lake and decided I'd go there :) That and it had the most flexible Arts degree.

I can't wait to read Enchanted Ivy - I loved Ice :)


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