What It Feels Like to Have Your Life Planned Out For You

Tessa Wolf // As told to by Diya Schon

I have always been close to my family – they have been there to motivate me and help guide me throughout my life. Yet, with a big decision like committing to a college, the little amount of pressure from my family may have impacted my school of choice.

The University of Illinois is what I knew. My great-grandpa, grandparents, Mom, Dad are all alumni, and my older brother currently attends U of I. It was not a life-or-death situation where I had to go to U of I; I had other choices, and for a moment, I was not planning on enrolling.

My brother went to the U of I to follow in my parents’ footsteps with the additional fact that they had his exact desired major. I am majoring in computer science and crop science, a unique major, and luckily, U of I offers both. Although I have been surrounded by U of I alumni my whole life, I still took the opportunity to branch out and explore other universities like Purdue and Iowa State. I was proud of myself for getting accepted into both, but the fact that both of those schools only had computer science helped me realize that they were not for me.

I was never completely conditioned into going to U of I, but the heavy influences I had throughout my life may have helped guide and persuade me to my final decision. Hearing all of the positive things my parents and family mentioned about the school got me leaning towards it.

Although I have heard nothing but good things about this school, it almost felt tailored towards me. It made me feel like I belonged there, which soon made that school my number one choice.

Along with being influenced by what school to commit to, my family and past memories helped pique my interest in computer and crop sciences. My dad grew up on a farm in Western Illinois, and when we hung out with his family and spent time on the farm surrounded by nature, I could not help but fall in love and become fascinated with plants.

For the computer aspect of my major, that was always my brother’s thing, and for a while, I did not want to study the same thing as him. He is the golden child, and even though we had similar interests, he still managed to be better than me in many aspects. I was unmotivated to pursue this career because of that reason, and I did not want it to seem like I was attempting to copy or steal that from him.

There were aspects in my life that soon helped me find my love for computer science. During my junior year of high school, I took AP Computer Science Principles, which is what really sparked my interest. I learned how to use specific science principles to solve problems through algorithms and programs. I realized that being a woman would make me a minority in the computer science industry and give me many opportunities. I made the executive decision to let go of the things holding me back and pursue computer science as a degree.

At first, I thought having many influences on my life was a bad thing. In my mind, the fear of not being my own person and being a carbon copy of everyone in my family was not something I was looking forward to. I wanted to be different.

Thinking back on it, I was always a very unsure person, never too confident in my abilities and doubting my capabilities. Being surrounded by my family and knowing that they believed in me helped me be more sure in myself. I also no longer see the idea that many people in my family have gone there as a negative aspect of my future home because although I know about their experiences, I can take that with me and still make it my own.

Now, I have realized this school is indeed the best choice for me. I can fully appreciate all of the benefits of going to a college where the rest of my family went. When thinking about college, I was nervous about not knowing anyone and being completely on my own, but now with U of I, I have so many connections there and people I know through my parents and brother. There are people who can help me make me think higher of the school.

I truly never viewed my life being planned out for me necessarily as a bad thing. I may not even consider my life as being planned out. I did have many great influences, but the choice was always mine. I have always surrounded myself with people who try to help me, and they helped me realize that U of I is the school right for me. Even if there was some pressure, I still explored many options, and I do not regret my decision. I am super excited to start courses, live on campus, meet new people and be my own person.