By Isabelle Rogers, executive entertainment editor

Native Foods Cafe, the Rocky Mountains, Skiing, John Denver. Going to school in Denver was what I always dreamed of, and University of Colorado Denver was my way of getting there. I mean who wouldn’t want to spend 4 of the funnest years in a city like that? I couldn’t wait to spend my weekends hiking, exploring the new city or staying on the beautiful campus.

When my mom told me University of Colorado Denver was out of our budget range, I was disappointed; However, I was not surprised. Beneath all my excitement and dreaming, I knew that a $40,000 school just wasn’t possible.

I was left with a few choices. I could go to any of my other second choice schools, like Southern Illinois University or University of Minnesota Morris, or I could attend Harper for two years.

With either of my second choice schools I’d still be able to go away to school without being across the country alone. On the other hand, I could go to Harper for free for two years, but I’d be living at home. Neither option sparked the part of me that inspires success. I’d be fine, but I wouldn’t flourish.

Then my great aunt offered to have me move out to Santa Barbara, California, live at her house and attend the Santa Barbara City College with all expenses paid. Moving across the country isn’t a simple thing, but this offer wouldn’t stand forever; I knew I had to take it.

Naturally, the first thing I wanted to do was tell my best friends, but the response I got was less than supportive. They were more concerned about me having a standard college experience than I was: I would be living with family, so how would I party? Would I be having the same experience if I had to be respectful of my aunt’s selflessness? Would I have any friends in town if I went to a commuter college?

Suddenly I was second guessing everything. Maybe they were right. How was I going to make friends without living on campus?

As my parents told family and friends about the decision I would have to make, everyone took it upon themselves to weigh the pros and cons for me, which was something I had already done 100 times before.

I listened to the same lectures told by different faces over and over again. “Yeah Santa Barbara is in California, but why don’t you go to a real university?” or “It may be beautiful, but how do you feel about going to a commuter college?”

Though everyone was asking “how I felt” about different aspects of each choice, their opinions were clear. SIU or UMM is obviously a better choice. Right?

Opinions differ. That’s why they’re opinions, and I appreciated that everyone cared enough to weigh in on the decision, but ultimately it was mine and only mine to make.

The offer to live in Santa Barbara and go to school for free is the best option for me. I get to be in a place I’ve always wanted to live, I get an extra two years to earn money to go to university, I get to go to a great city college, and I am given the chance to bond with my extended family. Not to mention I’ll be living on beautiful property five minutes from the beach and five minutes from town.

As May 1 nears and seniors are forced to make a decision that affects the rest of their lives, I advise them to make sure the decision is what they want, not what others think is best. Your future should make your heart race with anticipation, not your parents’.