I'm 25 and I am returning to college - I have previously attended two different schools and I'm having a hard time deciding to which one I want to return. (this is pretty long but I feel I need to provide some background)

When I graduated high school (great grades, excellent SAT scores), I got accepted to a big SEC school - also a big party school. I was raised to love this school and never really thought about going anywhere else - though I never felt pushed to go there, as a matter of fact my family wanted me to go to a small school, but I grew up basically bleeding the school colors if you know what I mean. I honestly loved the school, but there were also things I didn't or didn't think I liked: I grew up just outside a really big city and spent a lot of time there, this school was about 1 1/2 hours away in a small college town, and I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere. It seemed all that anyone did was drink and party and I was not into that sort of thing! My roommate was someone I'd known forever but it turns out we didn't get along. Plus, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and couldn't pick a major. I'm an only child in a very close extended family and no one had any experience with us going to school - my mom didn't graduate high school, and my dad soared through college because his parents paid for and gave him everything he wanted (of course he regrets his major and job choices now). It's almost like I had no idea you could get involved with clubs and explore different interests, I just really had no idea of what I was doing. So, I packed up in the middle of my freshman year and moved back home and lost my scholarship. During my first years home, I got to do a little traveling and I began taking acting classes at a big theater company and discovered I really loved it and spent a long time trying to save up to move to another state and pursue that (and just get a fresh start), but something would always happen to prevent that whenever I actually had the money. During this time I was also going to college at a school in the nearby city or I was enrolled anyway...I spent more time skipping school and going out with friends or going shopping than actually attending and I managed to waste away a college fund my grandfather set up for me, but my mom's deal was that as long as I was living in her house, I had to be in school. I had a lot of fun, but wasted a lot of time and money. I finally quit about 2-3 years ago. Up until this point, I just felt completely lost in life.

Well, about a year ago, it hit me what I really wanted to do and what I should have done 6-7 years ago (ironically most everyone I know says they always thought I'd go into this field). I found that I had a real passion for journalism and it just fit! I felt like for the first time since high school, I could think straight because I knew exactly what I wanted to do or at least the direction I wanted to head in. I reapplied at both of the schools I had attended and was accepted to both despite horrible grades. I didn't go back right away because I decided I needed to take care of some things first, such as credit card debts and few other personal issues. I spent a year working my butt off and paying for everything, plus helping my parents out because my dad lost his job and they had been kind enough to let me live with them for most of that time and continued to reapply to both schools until I could afford to attend. I also got kind of depressed because I felt I'd wasted the past 6-7 years of my life. Well, I think I'm over all of that now and I successfully paid off all of my debt and I'm ready to start school with a clean slate. I'm actually registered at one of the schools for this summer (the other I could attend in fall), but I can't seem to decide if I'm going to the right one.

Since I left the original school I went to, I've felt guilty. Since I was old enough to even think about college, I knew that's where I'd go and I would be a proud alumni like so many other people in my life, and it's really upsetting now that I've gotten over all of my trouble, to know that as of now I won't be returning. (It doesn't help that my younger cousin just graduated high school and will be going there in the fall...everyone is so excited and proud of him) It honestly eats at me and I feel like it will forever. And some of things that bothered me before don't bother me so much now. It doesn't seem so far away now and I know I don't have live right there in town where all of the partying goes on, there are other places around with interesting things...I guess I know more now than I did then, but I also hope I don't have a glorified version of the place in my head (you know absence makes the heart grow fonder) - I haven't been back to that town in a few years. I also really want to (need to) move out of my parents' house at this point, and I know living out there will be sooooo much cheaper (meaning I can concentrate on school and not working 24/7) and this is a minor issue but I have a HUGE dog and if I'm living in the city I won't be able to take her, if I go back to the original school, she can come too. It'll probably take me about two years to finish school if I go full time and go during the summer which presents another problem for this school. Their journalism program is very competitive, (supposedly one of the best in the country) and my grades are horrible. It'll probably take me longer to graduate and my goal right now is to just get finished as quick as possible - I don't know how easy it is for a 30 year old to start out as a journalist in any field. Oh, and there's the issue of age. Even though I look younger than I am, being 25 in a sea of 18-22 year olds sort of scares me - my dad has even made the comment that I'll be too old to go there.

Well, as I said I'm registered at the other school that's downtown and I really like that it's downtown but the school is kind of only so-so in my mind. It's in the middle of a major US city and there is always so much going on - I love that, but I don't know that I want to live there. There will also be so many opportunities while I'm in school such as internships and jobs. Plus the student body as a whole is more mature and very diverse which I like. The journalism department is fairly small (it's a commuter school and there are a lot of adult students so it's mostly aimed at business, education, etc) and I'm already in the program so it's not something I'd have to work towards. I can just start taking the classes and graduate as soon as possible. It makes the most sense to go there, but I'm always going to feel like I let myself down. I know it all seems kind of petty, but I don't want to go through life regretting that I didn't go back. It sounds silly, but every time I even see a picture of the mascot from that school, I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I contacted advisors at both schools with my problems and of course they both pushed for their own school. The one at the original school told me I could work in a pre-journalism major until my grades are up (which I don't quite get) and the other one gave me an example of an alumni who made it pretty big.
Logically, it just make sense to go to the the school I'm going to be attending in a couple of weeks and just move on to my future - put college behind me, but I don't want to look back years from now and regret that. Personally, it makes sense to go to the original school and do it right this time, but I'm afaid I'm making a mistake and thinking I can "start over."

I know it's ultimately a personal decision, but I wonder has anyone had this experience or does anyone have any advice? Anything you can share is very appreciated! (and thanks for reading and letting me vent!)