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I can’t say that this last month has been particularly enjoyable for me. Starting from my last post until the end of the month, I got rejected by 5 and waitlisted by 2 of the total of 10 colleges that I applied to back in December. That doesn’t feel good. I watched as my classmates got accepted to top-tier institutions, some of them Ivy League or the best in the nation, while I was hit by rejection after rejection. I watched as the kids I sat next to in English classes in school, who texted in class while I paid strict attention, or giggled with their friends while I wrote down meticulous notes, got into the schools that I desperately wanted to get into. And I’ve gotta say, that doesn’t feel good.
Now, I am willing to bet that that is how a lot of people felt when they got rejected from schools. You might be asking, “Why not me? What’s wrong with me? Don’t I deserve this for working so hard?” At the end of the day, you won’t get the answers to those questions. That’s the thing about the college application process: you don’t get answers to these questions. Its the ambiguous ending to the long book you were reading that leaves you thinking. And like with those books, you can choose the optimistic ending, or the sad one. You can choose to scrutinize every part of your application and doubt yourself forever. However, you can also choose to accept that that is how it is, and choose to believe that although, yes, you did work hard, and yes, you did deserve it, you didn’t get it. That’s just how it is. Let me give you a hint: choose the ending that makes you happy. Always choose the ending that makes you happy.
I once read a really inspiring article on The Prospect, and thinking of the message of that article helped me choose the right ending. The gist of it pretty much is, and I quote, “The true value is in what you make of your college years.” At the end of the day, what really matters isn’t how high the school you attend is rated on U.S. News Report, or what the teacher-student ratio is, or if it has 3 more distribution requirements than another. It’s what you make of yourself, what people you meet, and what experiences you create for yourself while you are at college that matter. That is what this post taught me, and that is how I’ve decided to face my college decisions.
Thus, I’ve decided to stop glooming over my rejections and waitlists, and focus on the options I do have for this fall. So, reflective moment over and back to reality. I’m currently deciding between two schools, the College of William and Mary and Vassar College (I was waitlisted by Wesleyan and Hamilton). I know, I know – these schools are literally not the same at all, and should not be hard to choose between. One’s got a core curriculum while one has an open curriculum, one’s in the South where its hot while one’s in the North where its cold, one’s big and one’s small, one’s public and one’s private, one’s more moderate to conservative while one’s more liberal. How hard can it be, right?
Very hard, that’s the answer. Very hard indeed. To help me decide, I’ve created so far, a pro-con list for each school, a “Why Vassar over W&M” and a “Why W&M over Vassar” list, a comparative chart on the strengths and weaknesses of both colleges in areas I care about in a school, graduate school placement comparisons, career placements comparisons, what alums have said, and what current students have said. It’s a lot of work. Even after comparing the two, I still find it difficult to make a decision. Really, I think its because there are two sides to me (Please, forgive the cheesiness to this. This may be because I am really just trying to find the answer, or because I’m currently writing this with a 101 fever.). One side, the logical, rational, and traditional, wants a solid college education where I learn about the realities of the world. The other side, the free-thinking, empathetic, and selfish, wants to experience what intellectual college students experience in a liberal environment. Thus far, I have not yet decided which of these two sides reign supreme.
But, I know that at the end of the day, I will be happy with my decision. I will look back when I’m in college and have experienced everything about that school and say, “I may have made the right choice, or I may not have made the right choice. Either way, this is how it is now, and now I am going to do my absolute best with what I’ve got. I am choosing happiness.” And in conjunction with my childhood idol, the great Hannah Montana, I am choosing to believe that life’s what you make it, so I’m going to make it rock.
I know that that was probably more sap than neither you nor I could handle, but its the truth. Now, I’m going to keep thinking about this decision and maybe get some sleep to recover from this devilish fever, so until next time, readers.
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