The power of persuasion: When to draw the line when deciding our friends’ futures

Tasked with the decision of where to spend their next four years, our high school senior friends are re-touring campuses and trying to glean a magic formula that will calculate their perfect match. Because we love the College of William and Mary so much, we may be tempted to sway them toward the Tribe. However, this past week I was reminded of just how personal it is to choose the perfect school.

My best friend, David, toured the College’s campus last week. He is essentially a little brother to me, and, naturally, I have been trying to convince him to choose the College. Through my countless anecdotes about my wonderful hall-mates and tales of my interesting professors, I assumed that I had him completely sold, which is why the seven words he said hit me like a punch in the gut:

“I’m still going to check out U.Va…”

Initially, I thought that it was because of the rivalry between the two “Jeffersonian universities” that this bothered me so much, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the school was irrelevant. The bottom line was that any other school wouldn’t be part of “the plan.” David and I were supposed to be reunited at the College, where countless lunch-dates and impromptu late-night Wawa runs would keep us together. It was supposed to mean creating countless memories with my best friend. That’s when I realized how selfishly I had been thinking.  The aforementioned plan I had developed would, of course, be fantastic for me, but would David be happy?

When it comes to our friends, it is easy to assume that what is perfect for us would be perfect for them. David and I had been involved in many of the same activities in high school, so much so that people would jokingly remark that we were the same person.  In assuming that the College would be his best choice, however, I overlooked the many ways in which we are different. He is definitely more extroverted than I am, and while I love the College’s small size, he may thrive at a larger school. He is also extremely passionate about marching band, which is an activity the College doesn’t even offer, but U.Va. prides itself upon. These are important factors I hadn’t even considered.

It is only natural to want those whom we love to share our enthusiasm for the College. It is through this shared love that we hope we can grow closer through the memories we might create with them here. But college decisions are like marriages — despite various pieces of advice from friends and family, the decision ultimately comes down to the personality, thoughts, preferences, interests and passions of the one person entering into a relationship with the school. While I would love for David to choose the College above all, I want him to choose somewhere where he will be as happy as possible.  No matter what our friends decide, it is extremely likely they will love their schools as much as we love ours. And David has shown me that that is far more important than “the plan.”


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