Lots of people have asked me why I chose Carnegie Mellon for college. I could always answer the standard PR line of "CMU is ranked first for Computer Science (by US News and World Report)."
But there's more to it. One thing that's huge to me is that CS is its own special thing here at Carnegie Mellon; it's in its own college, it has unity because it's the only undergrad major in the SCS. Carnegie Mellon also has people who come to CMU for music, or art, or achitecture, or business. MIT may have great humanities, but almost no one goes to MIT to major in humanities or arts.
Carnegie Mellon is also really good at interdiscicplinary activities - doing computer science for more than just the sake of computer science.
Another reason is distance. MIT is a 2.5 hour car ride from my family's home (it's certainly no longer mine). I didn't want to be able to think of Harpswell as a safe haven if something happens, of a place to go if I need a doctor, of a place to go if m parents wanted me home for Easter. I needed to go away without a safety net, maybe with the ability to fly to Maine if something drastic happens, but still not a weekend trip. I wanted the challenge of being independent all at once.
(Let's also be honest, I might not have gotten into MIT)
I dropped my sister off at the airport this morning; she has been here since Monday evening. When I am in Harpswell in May, she'll be gone on an exotic vacation to Indonesia. If she doesn't come visit me this summer, I may very well not see her til Christmas. It made me feel rather distanced from my family.
I am hungering to go further out of my comfort zone, for longer, where it's too expensive to call home and simply impossible to go home for a weekend. I want to test who I am, not what the environment around me allows me to be. I hope I get the opportunity to prove to myself that I can excel in any environment.