Feeling alone as you swim through the terrifying waters known as the college admission process? Have no fear! We have five seniors blogging about ups, downs, and random in-betweens of their college process for the next 12 months (from June 2013 to June 2014!). Sit back, relax, and get that “OMG I totally get you, bro” feeling.
Growing up in South Texas, I’ve grown accustomed to being the odd ball in the crowd. In a region where 90% of the population is Hispanic, being an Indian-Filipino Muslim seems like the epitome of diversity. Over time, I’ve grown to cherish my environment and the people that surround me everyday. As much as I appreciate the Tex-Mex atmosphere, I always crave to be out of the Valley for a while, just on my own, doing my own thing with a group of strangers.
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine talked to me about programs that allow you to visit certain colleges for free over the fall semester. These programs are created by schools looking for diverse, prospective students who are passionate about whatever it is that they do. After realizing how rad these opportunities were, I went on an application high and started applying to about 5 different programs in hopes of leaving my tiny valley for a few glorious days. And, let’s be honest here, who wouldn’t want to skip school and visit a college for free?! I procrastinated (as usual) and ended up applying the night before the deadlines to 2 programs that I was incredibly interested in–Amherst’s Diversity Open House and Hamilton’s Diversity Overnight Program. I completed my application like there was no tomorrow (literally slept at 3 on a Friday night) and when asked for an essay discussing my diversity, I went all out and pulled my favorite sob story–being a Muslim in a post 9/11 atmosphere. DISCLAIMER: IT IS TRULY A SOB STORY AND I CAN ASSURE YOU THAT THINGS I’VE DISCUSSED WITHIN THE ESSAY ARE, IN FACT, FACTUAL. Anyways, when I submitted my final application for the diversity programs, I felt relieved because I knew I had the upper hand against many other applicants. I mean, how many people can say that they’re immigrants from Asia, living in a very desolate part of the United States, is a girl, and a Muslim?
I thought of those characteristics as my “hooks”, which are basically traits that make you stand out from the rest of the crowd. I thought those “hooks” would be my shoo-in and I would get in, without a doubt. Well, lo and behold I received an email from both colleges 2 weeks later telling me that I had…NOT been admitted (??) , much to my utter disbelief. I thought they had certainly made a mistake. I mean, what did I not have that caused me to be rejected? On paper, I seemed passionate about being diverse and trying to find my place in society. I seemed like the “perfect” candidate, so to speak. And then, I realized how stupid, inconsiderate, and arrogant I had been.
The reason I probably didn’t get in was because of 2 very simple things: my SAT scores and my “try hard” writing. For one, my SAT scores are not that great. They are definitely above average but they aren’t even in the 2000’s club! Neither my SAT nor my SAT Subject Test scores were outstanding. Though I knew I was going to retake it in October, I disregarded the fact that colleges themselves didn’t know that. There was no way for them to know whether I was going to try again and up my score or simply settle for my mere 1830. The biggest regret in this was that I failed to stick to my previous plans and retake the test again in June, like I had originally planned.
Secondly, my “try hard” writing was what weighed me down. Though everything I wrote about did happen, I relied on them pitying me for my past in order to get into the program. To be honest with you, I look at those essays now and am shocked to see how much of the “my life is such a sob story plz let me in” card I had pulled. I wasn’t being completely passionate about how I felt about my identity and almost seemed like a phony. There are people out there with far better stories out there that rightly deserved their spot in the program and the fact that I almost took their spot makes me vomit.
After the feeling of being rejected settled in, I came to terms with it all. Sure, getting rejected bummed me out but it was just a program to visit. I admit, I did feel a little down in the dumps when I read the emails but in the grand scheme of it all, it was a wake up call. Those emails reminded me that I was not some brilliant, out of this universe student that had an automatic spot on anything I seemingly worked for. In fact, I’m a bit glad that Hamilton and Amherst rejected me because it’s almost like a trial run of the actual admissions process. I know what I messed up on and now I know that I have many things to fix before I turn in my actual college applications. Being rejected was, as cliché as it sounds, a humbling experience. It taught me that I can’t overestimate my so called hooks and hope colleges look at me out of pity. Being rejected taught me that college apps aren’t about YOLOing your way through. It’s about showing your true colors and proving to people that you’re here to stay.
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