Frank Whitaker, Minister Counselor for Public Affairs, on National College Decision Day

Frank Whitaker, Minister Counselor for Public Affairs, U.S. Embassy Beijing

May 1 is an exciting and important milestone; the date marks “national college decision day” in the United States.  Students decide by this date which college or university is the right fit for them.  I congratulate those students who have received acceptances already and those who will receive acceptances in the coming months.  You should be proud – you’ve jumped a series of hurdles to get where you are now.  You have narrowed down your selection of institutions that you think will help you to grow academically and socially.  You have poured your hearts out in essays and application forms.  You have prepared for and taken rigorous tests.  You have fulfilled commitments to your communities in extra-curricular and volunteer activities.  This process has helped you to grow.  A great education can change your life and guide your future.  You are ready!

As the father of six children, I have gone through the college application process many times:  the anticipation of waiting for acceptance letters and the thrill of when they arrive, the family conversations about deciding whether a small liberal arts school or a big state school is the right fit.  These are all very personal decisions and each person must decide what is right for them.

While you make your choices today, I want to point out how remarkable it is to have this choice to make.  The greatest advantage of your generation is the amount of options and opportunities that you have.  In the moment, the decision might feel challenging, but I celebrate with you the choices you get to make and the opportunities they will undoubtedly open in your future.

I encourage each of you to consider what is important to you and where you will be happiest.  That’s why we encourage students to “be yourself” when you apply, so that you find the right fit institution.  There are over 4,000 accredited U.S. colleges and universities; each offering unique experiences to their students.  Over one million international students, including many Chinese students, are now in U.S. higher education institutions, maintaining the United States’ long-standing position as the world’s top host nation for international students.  U.S. colleges and universities welcome international students for the valuable diversity you bring to American campuses.

As a father who has been there, I will leave you with some simple advice as you make your decisions today.  Study what you are passionate about.  Go to a school that wants you, and that has the staff and faculty to support your dreams.  Make your choices with not just your head but also your heart. There are schools and universities in America to fit every dream.

There is a fitting chengyu for days like college decision day, “The journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step.”  By making your choice of schools today, you are embarking on an exciting journey and I wish you all the success in the world.