During the second half of high school, I understood that if I wanted to go to college in the United States, I would have to work very hard to get scholarships and grants that would help me pay my way through university. I went to high school in Buenos Aires, where the public universities are free, but did not provide the kinds of courses I was looking for. They also have nuances that seem unideal to many students that I know. At the University of Buenos Aires, for example, all students must go through a year of “filter” courses before they actually start on their four-year degree. And that’s if you can do it in four years. Additionally, most universities, both public and private, do not provide any sort of housing for their students. To my knowledge, there is only one private university that does. As a result, many students have to commute one, two or even four hours total each day to get from home to class and back again. But perhaps that’s a small price to pay in exchange for not being laden with higher tuition and, in many cases, students loans.
It is not my intention to make comparisons. I’m just trying to state the facts about what it is like going to college in the United States, and what it seems to be like in a particular country, based on what I know from my own experience and other people’s. I got my scholarships and grants, opting out of attending a university that I knew would not provide me with the instruction I needed. Not that universities in Buenos Aires are terrible. I just knew that I wanted to be a good writer and to write in English. And for that, I knew it would be best for me to get a degree in the United States.
It wasn’t easy applying to different colleges, much less getting the financial aid I needed. But I can say that, just as the old sayings imply, you can achieve anything you want if you work hard enough. But there are still comparisons. There always will be. People outside of Trinity ask me about my tuition (many of them think it’s exorbitant), and many students at my high school reprimanded me for choosing to go to college in a country that charges so much money for people to attend college. But I’m not listening anymore, especially not to those words from the past.
When you look at people who go to private universities versus those who attend public ones, American universities versus foreign ones, try not to make so many comparisons. There are differences in education everywhere, and it’s awfully hard to concentrate on doing well when you’re thinking about how other colleges are better or worse, either for you or other people. Isn’t it enough to know that you’ve made a good choice? That you’ve made a choice at all? Don’t get so stuck in comparisons and doubt that you can’t make the decisions that will benefit you. While it helps to know your budget, like I did and still do, and other influential factors such as location, your passion is what matters most in the end.