How Did I End up at a U.S. College, Anyway?

So, I’m now in Maryland…a naturalized U.S. citizen…but how did I get to America from the place of my birth…Manchester, England.

In 1982 I was convinced that I would attend college in America. My parents had other ideas. My family had emigrated to America (NJ) in 1970, but we returned to England in 1977. All through my middle and high school years at an English convent school run by nuns from Ireland, I longed to return to the U.S. I was absolutely convinced of this. I could not picture myself at any English university or college. I toured quite a few at my parent’s insistence, but my resolve was unwavering.

In 1982 I convinced my parents to let me apply to U.S. colleges. I was supposed to go for a year and then return to England. I had other plans for myself. I was determined to complete my degree at the American college.

I obtained a Barron’s Guide to American Colleges. I selected 50 schools in the northeast of the U.S. — mailed letters to all 50 requesting admissions packets. Remember this was 1982 so no e-mail and no phone calls as the cost of calling was astronomical.

I applied to 7 colleges: in PA — Muhlenberg, Gettysburg, and Franklin_&_Marshall_College; in NY — Union and Vassar; and in MD — Washington College and Western Maryland College. I was accepted everywhere, except Vassar.

Now remember I did not visit any of the schools, nor did I interview at any of the schools, nor did I talk to an admissions officer. I simply completed my applications and mailed them airmail to the colleges. The only photos of the colleges were from the admissions brochures.

I attended an English school in Manchester. I had no SAT prep before I took my SAT at the American School in London. My school did not have a guidance counselor to help students. When you applied to college you did it by yourself.

I arrived at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, on August 26, 1983. When I stood on the steps of the College Center looking at Hartman Green I knew I had made the right choice. The campus was beautifully landscaped, with a green and a quad, cramped dorms, questionable cafeteria food, but overall an enriching learning experience for me — an 18-year-old naive, English college student.

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