Discerning College by Anna

Hi guys! I'm writing to share a bit about a really tough decision that I have to make that will impact the rest of my life - where to go to college.  Most people would say it’s smartest to go to school in the United States where the education is better, except education isn’t everything so it's not so easy.

For those who don’t know me well, I’ve pretty much been a weird, nerdy, behind-the-scenes scientist since I was a little girl.  Homeschooling gave me the freedom to spend time on the things that interested me and over the years I’ve had the chance to dive deep into all the subjects.  Now, I'm not saying that everything was easy and exciting and I loved every minute of it, but overall I've always loved learning.  I say all this so that you understand that my education is very important to me.  It's something that I’m passionate about. This passion for education is what I’m hoping will get me through medical school and on to do surgery although it's hard because I know that it's passion that leads many doctors, scientists, and other medics to lose sight of what means the most in life.

I went to a college fair with some friends.
It was really eye-opening to see some of the 
options here in Costa Rica.  There were over
100 institutions represented.
So, this is why I know I have to include God in my decision.  I'm praying and I believe that God is guiding me in all I think, say, and do.  “Discerning” is a mystifying word that a lot of holy people use, but it really just means including God in your decisions.  I’ve invited God into my decisions before but never with something quite as big as this.  I know that in discerning we can't just wait for God to drop answers in our laps, instead we must first put in some effort ourselves.  So, I started by collecting information, but I didn't know what to do next.  I felt frustrated with myself for not praying more and listening for God's voice.  After I invited God in I was able to see things more clearly.  This is my analysis: In the United States, colleges require people to take advanced math, history, english, and other general subjects.  This would be great for my knowledge-craving brain BUT I want to be a surgeon not a mathematician or a historian.  It seems like all those extra classes would just make it so that I had to be in college for many additional years in addition to medical school, which is already a lot.  Here in Costa Rica, the universities don’t require people to take general courses.  They focus solely on the classes that are specific and necessary for each profession, cutting years off of the degrees.  

Another thing that I've had to think about is the difference in price which is a hard thing to think about because I'm in between worlds.  Compared to the cost of university in the United States, the education here in Costa Rica is very cheap, but it's hard for me to say that because I'm surrounded by poor kids who would love to go to college but can't because they don't have the money to pay for it.  The amount of money that I would need to pay for my entire college education here would only pay for a fraction of my schooling in the United States.  I know that the custom in the U.S. is to take out loans to pay for college, but the idea of taking out loans is strange to me because I've grown up around poor people who only can spend what money they have because nobody would give them a loan for anything.  This is a very difficult reality of my cross-cultural life.  Neither seems completely "normal" for me.  

This is only one of the many lists
I've made trying to figure all this out!
I've also had to think about the cultures in each place.  I know that living in Latin America since I was 10 years old has had a big impact on me.  It's effected what I'm used to, for example, the music, clothing and food, the education system, transportation, and economic classes, the ways that people socialize, the traditions, and so much more.  It's not that I don't understand how things work in the United States, it's just that there is a lot of excess and that's hard for me.  Now, is it impossible to live out gospel poverty in the Unites States - to choose to have less and live simple?  No, of course not, but it's an awful lot more difficult.  [As a side note - if you have purposefully cut things out of your life for Jesus’ sake and are trying to help the poor around you, please know that you have my deep admiration.]  Living gospel poverty is difficult here too, ya’ know if we were all dressed as Jesus and could control the miracles it would be a lot easier but that’s not the reality.  We have to let Jesus shine through our normal people selves and we can do that by first discerning how to live God's will for our lives.

Taking these things (and many, many more - trust me) into account I think that if I were to go to college in the United States I would be doing it to seek my own glory.  I also think that the culture could suck me into a life of debt and a time-consuming career, which seems to be the "norm".  If I go to college here in Costa Rica I will give up the chance to get an excellent education and all the other things that people think of when they talk about the "American dream", but in exchange I think that I would be able to live simpler, have fewer years of school, enjoy healthy relationships, hopefully have a family one day, and stay close to my immediate family - at least for a couple more years.  So, I'm kind of leaning toward going to school here, but I'm definitely still praying about how I feel about each option.  It's very hard to decide.  I want to choose the one that aligns with the things that I know to be God's will for every person: humility, order, loving others, hard work, balance, simplicity.  I also want to be a great surgeon.  I guess I'll just have to see what doors God opens up for me this next year.

Choosing colleges and careers is something a lot of kids and parents find very stressful.  I’m not saying that it’s easy for me, but I strongly believe that everything is better (and easier) when we include God.  Like I said, sometimes we don’t know where God is in our decision making.  We have to look up, down, and all around for Him, but when we finally find Him it's fulfilling.  I pray that wherever you're going in life you're planning to take God with you because it's a happiness that’s unexplainable - I promise!  So, what really am I promising?  I guess you'll have to find out next time you pray because discernment is constant.  Sometimes we think things are too small and insignificant for God but He never gets annoyed at us for including Him in our lives.  

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PRAY FOR ME!!!!!! This is a life-changing decision and I only have a few more months before I have to start making plans.  I'll write again when I know more.

Lots of love and prayers,
Anna Kathleen Carmody Seery
(I prefer to put both of my parents' last names to represent both sides of my family.  This is common in Latin America.) 

Following are some of the universities that I've been researching:

Xavier has the medical program
that I've been looking for and Ohio is
close to my extended family.
The Jesuits have the spirituality
I search for and Loyola has a 
great medical program.  It's also
close to family.

The University of Detroit Mercy holds a 
special place in my heart because it's where
both of my parents went and I wanted to
walk in their footsteps.

I've very competitive and it seems like the
University of Michigan attracts competitive
people.  Plus, I'd be close to family.

The University of Costa Rica has a really 
good program because only the kids with the
best grade get accepted.  They have a variety
of degrees and extracurricular activities.

UIA is another accredited university here in
Costa Rica that has a great medical program.

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