As a high school student without a clear view of your career path, it can be challenging to choose a set of colleges for consideration and then to actually pick one for attendance. My advice is to find a healthy balance in following your heart and your head, and open your mind to the notion that you can excel at anything you do regardless of whether you select an less-expensive state school or an Ivy League institution.
In the fall of 1999 during my senior year, I narrowed down my college considerations by focusing on evaluating Journalism Schools in a handful of universities. Journalism appeared to be a perfect fit given my love of language and gravity toward good grammar. By graduating third in my high school class of more than 400 and having a resume full of sports and extra-curricular involvement, I ended up being offered a $10,000 annual scholarship to Boston University and a scholarship to the University of Kansas that would cover full tuition and books. Rather than becoming saddled with more than $100,000 of debt, I put my pride aside and chose KU knowing full well I could be happy anywhere.
Despite the large size of the university, I always tell prospective students that the community is as small as you make it. Whether you choose Greek life, opt to participate in activities ranging from sports to music to politics, or simply make friends through your core classes, it is easy to feel like part of something great. The William Allen White School of Journalism was exceptional, and I couldn’t have imagined how much relevant information and how many life skills I would learn in those classes. An internship promoted by one of my English professors became the catalyst for my three post-college jobs in marketing that led me to where I am today. Ultimately, I graduated with a B.S. in Journalism Strategic Communications with a French minor and a B.A. in Psychology. Together, these degrees help me excel not only in my career but in being a good, caring person who puts friends, family and clients first.
As the co-owner of Circle Sideways, a marketing and advertising firm located in Merriam, Kan., I am not just a copywriter but a marketing strategist, business consultant, entrepreneur, client therapist and more. My business partner, Anna Ladd, also graduated from a state school (I can forgive her for being a K-State Wildcat!), and the friends and connections we made in our college days have been invaluable in both supporting our journey and growing our business. I’ve often thought about how my life would be different if I had attended BU. All in all, I don’t think it would have made me any happier or more successful in what I find meaningful in life.
Learn more about Lee Stiegemeier and Circle Sideways on Circle Sideways website!