This topic has been rehashed a LOT - I think we need to sticky one of these threads haha! :) A few years ago I, too, really wanted to do the whole "horse college" thing. But I decided to take a gap year to be a working student (which was FREE) and I learned more in that amount of time than I ever would have at "horse school." I met a ton of esteemed professionals and they said they wouldn't touch a horse-college grad with a ten-foot pole. Farriers, trainers, etc - they all said the same thing. The thing is that riding is very different to the other career paths that you can major in - it can't be taught in a clinical, right/wrong way the way other things can. You'd be MUCH better off contacting your favorite top rider, spending a year or two as a working student, and then getting a NON-HORSEY degree to fall back on. You may never work outside of the horse industry but you NEED to be prepared in case you break your neck, back, whatever and can't do the horse thing anymore. You don't want to be 45 and a grocery store cashier, do you? Major in something you love, the thing you'd do if all the horses in the world disappeared.
Meredith Manor has a pretty bad reputation. The Olympian I was a working student for said the couple of MM grads she had were the most useless working students - they were unsafe, totally convinced that their (incorrect) techniques were right, yada yada.
Being a working student will earn you respect. It won't make you $100,000+ in debt. And it'll show you if you REALLY want to be a pro - a lot of people argue when I say that, but you can't say a thing until you've worked a 17 hour day, had a horse die with it's head on your lap, broken a bone and had to keep working the rest of the day, and been thrown into a cross-country fence - all in one day. A lot of days are like that, and the horse-college grads come out into the real world oftentimes thinking it's all pwiddy ponies and fun rides and ribbons. It's not. That's maybe 1% of it.