In high school, college always seemed a long way off to me. Looking back, I can see that
I should have started thinking about it earlier, but I was busy with other activities like soccer and youth group. I pretty much figured I would cross that bridge when I came to it.
As a result, my parents started thinking about college before I did, and I didn't start looking at schools until the summer before my senior year.
My mother, however, had foresight. She had visited a school near Chicago called Wheaton College a couple of times and must have mentioned it to me a million times. She dropped so many subtle (and not-so-subtle) hints that I started to get tired of hearing them. I didn't know enough about the school to be completely convinced it was where I wanted to go. Besides, college was my first chance to really step out on my own. I wanted the decision about where I went to be mine—not my parents'.
But then my parents and I took a trip and visited several schools around the country. Most of the places we went were small Christian colleges. Mom and Dad persuaded me to at least give Wheaton a chance, so we made it one of the stops on our tour.
To my surprise and my parents' delight, I loved the place. Everything about it seemed perfect: The tour guide was friendly and helpful, the campus was dignified and beautiful, and I loved the little town near the school.
Also, the school was strong in my areas of interest. I was seriously considering a major in music, and I was also hoping to play college soccer. I knew that Wheaton's music conservatory was excellent and that it had a pretty good soccer team.
So I loved the campus and felt confident the school had what I was looking for. It seemed like the ideal match for me.
My parents were thrilled—especially my mother. But then again, they had been excited about it for a long time already.
Even though I was ready to send my application in the day I got home from my visit, I wanted to pray and make sure God was as excited as I was. In a way, though, my mind was already made up. Without really listening for God's direction, I started telling people I felt as if I'd found the college where God wanted me. My parents prayed about it, too, and felt the same way. I filled out the early application without applying to any other schools.
And then—probably sometime around Christmas—I started wondering whether I should have taken a serious look at more than one college.
On the one hand, I knew without a doubt that Wheaton was where I wanted to go. I had felt that way from the moment I had stepped on the campus.
At the same time, I didn't want to put all of my eggs in one basket. My grades and test scores were really good, but I knew Wheaton was very selective, and I wasn't positive I would get in. And what if it wasn't God's will for me to go there?
At first I kept my concerns to myself. For the most part, I still felt sure I'd discovered the perfect school for me. It seemed so obvious, and I didn't want to worry about it too much. But my concerns wouldn't go away.
Finally, I couldn't keep it to myself anymore, and I asked my dad whether we needed to look at some more schools. By then, though, it was getting near the date when Wheaton was supposed to reply to my application. Dad said he understood my concern but thought we should wait for the response before we worried too much. So we waited.
Then it happened. Around the first week of February, I got a letter that made my heart drop like a stone.
"I'm sorry to inform you that you have not been selected for admission….They included a nice note saying I was a good student, seemed like a strong Christian, and they hated having to turn me down, but that didn't make me feel much better. I was crushed and confused. I barely had the heart to finish the letter.
I figured I could find another school. The problem was that I didn't want to go anywhere else. I had felt so sure that God wanted me to be there. That night I stumbled onto my bed and prayed: