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What I wish I knew – Talia Bertrando ’22

“Who made you queen?” was a phrase used by my mom multiple times throughout my childhood. Whenever I made brainless decisions without approval or demands without manners, I was brought down to earth with the pointed reminder that I was, in fact, not royalty. I gradually grew into this knowledge of my lack of birthright, and often remembered the phrase to keep my ego in check. This phrase followed me as I transitioned from a sassy seven-year-old demanding snacks to a college-obsessed seventeen-year-old praying I would find a college I would like for all four years.

A turning point during my college search came when I was sitting in a college auditorium, listening to an enrollment office speak. I realized this university I was visiting really seemed to think it was “queen”. I sat there listening to how selective the college was and how it prestigious it was. No fact or information they presented could stand on its own; I instead was reminded every two minutes how great the college was. I learned how competitive it was and how only select students could do this or visit that place. I still wonder how many times I had to stop my eyes from rolling during the talk. I couldn’t help but repeat my mom’s phrase and ask, “Who made them queen?” Throughout the presentation it became more and more apparent to me that I no longer felt the need to impress this college or even try to fit into the pretentious culture apparent there.

I wish I had realized sooner the importance of a college’s personality and culture. For me, that information session taught me I wouldn’t be happy at a college where I didn’t feel supported and accepted. Finding a college that fit the experience I wanted to live for four years suddenly became much more important to me. Personally, I wanted to attend a college that was less about competition and more about challenging yourself. I wanted to go somewhere where I felt that I could meet people with similar interests and goals. I realized I was looking for a college that would tell me less about how great it was and instead tell me how great I myself could become.

 College is four fun years where I’m able to live among people my own age, enjoy freedoms I haven’t had before, and study subjects that truly interest me. My time at college would feel much slower if I were to have attended a college that didn’t fit the personality I wanted from a school. College searches are not about forming yourself to fit what you think a college wants—it is about finding a college that will support and challenge what you already bring to the table.

I encourage anyone in the depths of a college search to find a college that fits what they hope their college experience should be and forgo the fake royals within the higher education system. At Juniata, I found my home.

Talia Bertrando ’22 – Business Communication with Spanish POE, Small town Bon Vivant usually found on a sports field or singing something stuck in her head