37: Clueless

37: Clueless

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Getting In...To College


When you cannot make up your mind which of two evenly balanced courses of action you should take— choose the bolder.

~William Joseph Slim

Check the box that has your top choices for your future career,” the guidance counselor instructed our class, “and put your pencils down when you’re finished.”

I stared as my classmates located their boxes and filled them in. How did they know what they wanted to do? Had I missed something?

I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life!

As if sensing my dilemma, the counselor said, “For those who aren’t sure, pick your two favorite hobbies and choose careers along the same lines.”

Good grief. I contemplated all the things I loved to do in my free time and narrowed it down to two... but they were different as night and day.

I love writing, novels especially, so it seemed natural when one of my options was to major in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing. I didn’t want to go into Journalism—I preferred reading nonfiction but writing fiction.

My other choice was to go into Culinary Arts. That job seemed more practical to me. I would be active as opposed to stuck behind a desk. I would learn to cook well enough that I could help my family with the cooking. The problem was... the cost for the culinary school closest to home was approximately $30,000 a year. Even though it was worth it — the tuition price included a full set of knives, uniforms, and the classes — I didn’t have that kind of money.

Both options were very tempting.

I scowled in frustration and leaned back in my chair, analyzing my future.

“If you’re having trouble selecting a college,” the counselor said, “I would advise researching them on the Internet.”

That sounded like a good plan. At home, I looked up both of the majors. Apparently, not many schools had Creative Writing options, which made it easier to narrow down colleges. And of course culinary schools weren’t on every street, either.

The next morning before school I stopped at my counselor’s office. “I’m having a bit of trouble deciding what to do,” I admitted.

“Well, for the majors you’ve told me, I would go on campus tours first,” she instructed. “Also talk to the representatives who come to recruit the seniors, and see what you can learn from them.”

A week later, a promoter came from Johnson and Wales—my primary choice for culinary school — and gave a speech about the college. “If you’re not sure whether you want to become a chef,” he said, “we have a three-day camp that will make or break your decision. It’s $195 and I promise it’s worth it!”

Things fell into place after all the advice I’d received in the past week. I was very lucky to have supportive parents who were determined to see me happy with whatever I chose to do. They signed me up for the culinary camp, and when spring break rolled around, we hit the campus tours.

We had three English schools on our list and Johnson and Wales as the culinary school we wanted to see. Two schools were located in Denver, Colorado, one in Greeley, Colorado, and the fourth in Fort Collins, Colorado.

The first school we visited was one of the Denver schools. I loved it! The dorms were amazing, and some of the classes I would get to take as a Creative Writing student sounded amazing (Shakespeare, Romanian Literature, Dark Romanticism...).

My parents, however, hated it. The school was built in the middle of the city, and there were six bars less than a mile from campus. We left discouraged but still hopeful that one of the other campuses would have something that satisfied everyone.

Of the remaining two Creative Writing colleges, I eliminated one instantly. The third and final university—Colorado State University—was incredible. The campus was gorgeous, and the classes sounded so fun! We actually got to sit down and talk to one of the English professors while we were there. I liked him right away. He had long white hair like Ebenezer Scrooge and wore a billowy white shirt under an old-fashioned black vest. He had pants tucked into knee-length black boots. He taught classes on Chaucer, and he fit the profile of a man who loved the classics.

That was enough to convince me that if I went into Creative Writing, I would definitely go to CSU.

My parents and I were also blown away when we visited Johnson and Wales University. That campus was stunning, too — and much smaller than CSU. Smaller than my high school, in fact. The schooling techniques were fantastic... students got Fridays off from class and could do an internship anywhere in the world during their sophomore year. It looked like so much fun!

The problem still remained the price, however. Johnson and Wales’ nearly $30,000 a year was almost double the approximately $17,000 that CSU required. I threw myself into applying for scholarships as I waited for the culinary camp to roll around. Until then, I got a job working as a food prep buffet attendant at a local restaurant, which taught me so much about cooking. I also began writing for the Christian Writer’s Guild, a program that had students submit one extensive writing lesson every two weeks.

In the end, I chose the culinary route. It was expensive, but my family was continuously supportive. My parents helped to pay for school and my grandparents gave me the idea to cook on a cruise ship. Suddenly I was facing a fantastic future that exceeded my wildest dreams! Looking back, I can see throughout all of this that the most important thing to help me decide what I wanted to do with my life was getting involved. The campus tours, the culinary camp, and the Writer’s Guild all influenced my thoughts about the future, and in the end, they helped me decide what to do with my life.

~Amy Anderson

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