An Important Decision
After I had come back from spring break, I received the letters from the eight colleges I had applied for. Six of them—RPI, WPI, Willamette, Lehigh, Johns Hopkins, and Case Western Reserve—accepted me, one of them—Carnegie Mellon —put me on its waiting list, and the other one—Rice—rejected me. I had about two months to do research about these six colleges in order to make the decision on which one of them I should choose. I tried to determine which of them matched my interests. The first month I eliminated four of them out of my choice. Therefore, after the first month, I had to choose between Johns Hopkins and Case Western Reserve. It was a difficult decision because being in a university which did not match me might affect the happiness of my future. I would be studying at one of them for about four years. I wanted to have the college that best fit me because I did not want to transfer later if I found out that I did not like it. I ignored the fact that Johns Hopkins had more worldwide reputation than CWRU because it was not one of my requirements. Therefore, I researched a lot of information about both of them from many different sources in order to find the facts I needed to know. After careful consideration, I decided to choose CWRU as the university that I would attend.
The first reason I chose Case over Johns Hopkins was because the difference in cost. I received a scholarship from the Thai government which gave all the tuition and also monthly payment to pay for room and board. The money left over was mine to keep. Johns Hopkins’ room and board was more expensive than Case’s. After I calculated the remaining money of both of them, I found that I would have only $240 a month if I studied at Johns Hopkins, but about $560 if I chose CWRU. That meant I would have a lot more money to spend if I studied at CWRU. This factor was influential to me because I would be happy to study when I had money in my pocket. I grew up from a moderate family. I used to have only about $7 a month from my parents to spend when I was in high school. I also knew the feeling of having little money when I was in my US high school. I could not go out with my friends during weekends because I did not have money. When I wanted a study break after working hard by either watching movies or shopping, I could not fully enjoy myself because I had to worry about the money. I had to always be aware about my money so I would not spend all of it before getting the next month’s payment. I rarely had a chance to relax from studying even though I felt really stressed out from studying. I found that less money made my study life unhappy and difficult. Therefore, when I had a chance to choose my future life, I unhesitatingly chose to go to CWRU.
While I was making my decision, my friend who was also accepted to CWRU was influential on me. He was considering to go to Case also. At that time I had the feeling that if I had a friend to go with me I would be happy. The feeling of loneliness came from the depressing feelings I used to have when I was alone in the US high school. When I was upset and had problems, I wanted to have a friend whom I relied on to console. When I was happy and wanted to relax, I wanted to have a friend whom I felt happy to go out with. However, I could not find anyone. These periods of time were horrible to me. I was homesick, lonely, and upset. I had a hard time concentrating on studying. I considered this reason and found that a good friend would help relieve me from these horrible feelings. I would have someone listen to me when I had problems. He would also be a friend to go out with and make me happy. That would encourage me to study well because my mental condition was good. Therefore, when I had a chance to choose the university I would go to study, I strongly considered the one that I could go to with my friend.
Another important issue that I considered was the size of the university. I liked to be in a small college like CWRU. I knew that I would have opportunities to take advantage of in a small university. When I was young, I was very fat and lazy. I hated to walk a long distance. This habit was still with me even though right now I am thinner and more active. I did not like to be in a university that I had to walk, ride a bike, or take a bus for a long distance to get to classes. Particularly, in the winter, I hated to struggle under snow storms for a long time. Case remedied this problem because it is a small college in which most of the classrooms are located close to one another. I would not have a tremendously long walk under cold weather.
In a small university, I would also have chances to meet and get to know the professors. I researched CWRU’s ratio of professors to students in my department, materials science and engineering, and found that it was only 1 professor to 3 students. Every professor had his own research and projects to do all year. That means I would definitely have at least a professor to do research with. I also found that there was an open door policy which allow students to go into a professor’s office anytime if they had problems. I could not find anything like this at any of the other colleges I was considering. The open door policy gave Case a good advantage over the other colleges I was choosing from because I wanted to have opportunities to do research and projects with the professors. There were also less students to compete with which would give me more chances to take advantage of many programs offered by Case. The small size of CWRU was one of the contributing factors in why I chose Case.
The most important reason I found which made me more certain to choose Case Western Reserve University was NASA. Case was the only one college I was choosing from that had NASA located nearby. The best part was that CWRU participated in joint programs with NASA. When I was young, I admired NASA. I loved to discover about mysterious things that people did not know. Space was one of them that I was interested in. I liked to watch the news about the new discoveries in space. Most of the time when I watched television, I would see the USA flag and the logo of NASA. In my opinion, to go into space was the most challenging and intelligent thing. I admired and honored persons who worked with NASA. I used to have a dream that I was the best engineer in the world and was given a chance to work for NASA. That was only a dream when I was young. I never thought that I would have a chance to make it come true in my life. However, when I found that CWRU had joint programs and research with NASA, this information sparked my hope. I knew that I would be close to my dream. I researched more about the cooperation of NASA and CWRU and found that it was possible for me to get involved with NASA. There were professors from CWRU who were doing research with NASA. Professor David Matthiesen, for example, did research about diffusional transport in microgravity with NASA. He had a chance to go into space to do some experiments too. In a CWRU brochure, it also said that, "When the space shuttle Atlantis rocketed into orbit the last summer, a box from CWRU went along with the ride." This showed that Case was involved in programs done by NASA. CWRU and NASA were members of the Center for Materials for Space Structures (CMSS). The center created materials that were capable of withstanding the harsh space environment. Faculty and students from Case were an important part of that center. Another opportunity that Case provided was that they would also offer me co-op programs which allowed me to work during academic years with NASA. The NASA Lewis research center would also offered me internship during the summer. When I thought about the opportunities to participate with NASA, I was happy and hopeful. My dream would definitely come true. So I did not hesitate to decide to reply to CWRU.
The factors I used to consider each college that accepted me seemed to match what CWRU offered. I wanted to have a happy life when I studied. I knew I would do well with my studying if I had good mental condition. Right now, I am studying at CWRU. I have found that all of the reasons for choosing CWRU were right. I am happy. I am not tense from studying because I could go to relax on weekends with my good friend. I have enough money to spend on shopping and watching movies. I am not lonely or homesick because I have my close friend with me all the time. I do not walk for a long way to my classes because they are located close to one another. Moreover, I am planning with the chairman of my department to do internship with NASA next summer. I am sure that I have made the right decision to come to Case, and fulfill my dreams.