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    Would I Fit In?

    Choosing a college is about more than just academics.

    Ali Childers

    As I made my way to the dorm lobby, I couldn't ignore the butterflies in my stomach. Why had I decided to spend the weekend with a girl I didn't know?

    A few weeks ago, this college visit had sounded like a good idea. But now I wasn't so sure.

    How will I ever find the student I am staying with? I don't even know what she looks like.

    "Are you Ali?" My thoughts were interrupted by my designated host.

    "My name's Megan. Let me introduce you to some of my friends."

    The next thing I knew, we were heading for their favorite hole-in-the-wall coffee shop.

    Crammed into the back seat of Megan's little, gray hatchback, I was still a little nervous. What if we don't have anything in common?

    My nervousness came out as we discussed movies over café mochas. I told one of the guys with us he looked like a cute actor in a movie I had just seen. When I realized I'd basically just told him he was a hottie, I was pretty embarrassed.

    I was glad when the subject changed to music. Megan and I discovered we had similar tastes. So we chatted about our favorite bands.

    After a while I realized I was feeling totally at ease around people who'd been strangers a couple of hours ago. We were all feeling uncertain about the future. They were trying to figure out what classes to take and what to major in. I was, of course, trying to figure out where to go to school. I was really encouraged as several of them talked about their de sire to be used by God. I knew I wanted that too.

    When it came down to final decision time, I knew choosing a college was about more than just academics. It was about choosing a community. So the time I had spent hanging out with students was pretty valuable.

    I now frequent that same hole-in-the-wall coffee shop I visited as a prospective student. And I haven't been disappointed by the choice I made. I've been challenged and encouraged, stretched and shaped. I can't help thinking I owe that in part to a little coffee talk.

    Ali majored in communications at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois.

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