In September, I wrote a column that promised I would someday write about my final college decision. In that column, I listed three options for my future education: Kansas State University, Indiana University and John Brown University.
The purpose of this column is to fulfill that promise. But here’s the twist: I’m not attending any of those three colleges next year.
When my family and I visited Indiana University last summer, we ate lunch on the road at a cute diner in Columbia, Mo. That happens to be the town where the main campus for the University of Missouri is located. Since we knew MU was supposed to have one of the best journalism schools in the country, we decided to drive past the campus.
At the time, I really had no interest in the school. That, combined with the fact that I was a little grouchy from sitting in the car all day, led me to tell my dad to continue on to Indiana; I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be considering Mizzou.
Up until mid-October, that was my mindset. I thought I was going to go to K-State, Indiana or John Brown. The only problem was, I didn’t know which one, and it was driving me crazy.
Then one morning during Webpage Design class, I randomly started researching some different journalism colleges. Of course, the University of Missouri came up as one of the No. 1 options.
Throughout the day, I continued to look up more information on the school. The more I found, the more I began to realize that I should start considering MU.
When I got home that night, I told my parents about my possible interest in Mizzou. I think they were surprised, but they agreed I could apply and we would make a visit as soon as possible. So, on an early morning about two weeks later, my family and I set out for a quick, one-day trip to Columbia.
Columbia is in a really great location: it is two hours away from both Kansas City and St. Louis and only 30 minutes from Missouri’s capital, Jefferson City. We made the trip in just under five hours and found our parking garage with the assistance of our trusty GPS, Pippa.
First, we had a general overview meeting, during which an admissions representative told us all the facts and figures about Mizzou. The meeting included useful information, but it did not completely convince me I wanted to go there.
Next we went on a campus tour. The tour included a walk around the Francis Quadrangle, which features the iconic columns, a stop in the modern student center and, the best part, a visit to the incredible rec center. During the tour, I began to actually see myself going to Missouri in the coming year.
After lunch, it was time to visit the world’s first journalism school. At the Missouri School of Journalism, they emphasize the “learning by doing” method. Students work for real media outlets and gain hands on experience before even leaving college.
For aspiring broadcast journalists like me, that hands-on experience comes from working at KOMU, the only university-owned commercial television station in the U.S. Our tour guide at KOMU said students can begin doing on-air “cut-ins” as early as their freshman year.
Since KOMU is a NBC affiliate, those cut-ins would be during the “Today Show,” after Al Roker says, “That’s what’s going on around the country. Here’s what’s happening in your neck of the woods.” By their junior year, students report and anchor for the station.
We stopped to eat lunch at Culver’s, one of my favorite “out-of-state” restaurants, before making the five-hour trip home. I remember I had the weirdest feeling while I ate, because suddenly, my future plans looked a lot different. In a matter of less than 12 hours, I had become pretty convinced I wanted to be a Missouri Tiger.
The distance from home was not too far, but not too close either; the journalism school was amazing and the school had decent sports teams, which is definitely an important factor to me.
I later became more sure that I wanted to attend Mizzou when I was accepted into the Walter Williams Scholars, the highest level of journalism scholars. Also, I was able to talk to Melissa Scheffler, a reporter and anchor for KWCH and graduate of the University of Missouri, and she helped me a lot in my decision.
So, there you have it. Next year, I will be a Mizzou Tiger! It is the most relaxing feeling to have that decision behind me, and I continue to sympathize and pray for those who still have to make that decision.
Oh, and one last thing to all the KU fans reading this: Yes, I know I’m a “traitor” and I’m going to “that school to the east,” so thanks for “praying for me.”