Image from Pexels.

Image from Pexels.

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. Information for how to contact a blogger will be at the bottom of his/her posts.

It’s a weird feeling, knowing that you’re doing something that’s supposed to be a significant event in your life.

This feeling— commonly experienced during graduations, driver’s license tests, and first kisses— typically manifests itself through some combination of wonderment, uncertainty, elation, and/or possibly disappointment (depending on how things go). I knew that I would feel this strange emotion on December 13th. For, on this day, I was going to be either granted or denied admission to my dream college, Wesleyan University. One way or another, this was a big deal.

I sleepwalked through the first half of the school day, unable to concentrate on anything other than the impending decision. Certain “sources” (i.e. randos on College Confidential) promised that letters would be online by noon Pacific Standard Time, but I wasn’t expecting anything earlier than 3 p.m.. As I’d learned from numerous SAT score debacles, these things usually don’t come out right when there supposed to, and even when they do the website can crash and cause further distress.

So when the clock struck twelve, I had little hope of finding anything new on my WesCheck account. But history class was lasting too long, and I was getting kind of tired of discussing Imre Kertész, so I just thought, “Eh, why not?” At worst, I could marvel again at all the green checkmarks I had painstakingly earned. I opened my laptop and logged in. And on the page was a new yellow bar brandishing a single sentence:

“An update has been added to your application.”

Okay, that is insanely vague. I don’t think there has ever been a more vague sentence in the history of written language. Honestly, it didn’t even cross my mind that this could be the letter; I assumed that would come with much more fanfare and perhaps some dramatic music. I imagined that this was just a casual note, maybe informing me when the actual letters would be available. So I absent-mindedly clicked the little link, causing something unexpected: an official-looking letter appeared on my screen. This might sound silly, but I was completely dumbfounded; I didn’t even know how to process what was happening. The only thing that occurred to me was to scroll down. And when I did, my eyes became fixed on the first word.

Congratulations.

I have never experienced a more spontaneous burst of happiness, satisfaction, and relief. No amount of driver’s licenses or graduations or first kisses could compare. I don’t know if that’s healthy, but it’s true. A few days later, I sent in my deposit, and…it’s official! I’m a part of Wesleyan University’s Class of 2018, and I could not be more thrilled.

I was planning on filming myself receiving the decision, partly for posterity and partly because this video always makes me cry. Clearly, I didn’t get the chance to do that, which I’m actually happy about. For someone who micromanages and stresses out about everything, it’s not common for life to just come at you like that, suddenly and unannounced. I’m really glad that it did, and I’m definitely never going to forget that moment.

 So, what have I learned from this whole experience? 

Well, in terms of big, life-affirming takeaways… I’m not sure. Don’t stress out? That’s a tidbit that gets thrown around a lot during the college admissions game. While I think that’s a well-meaning sentiment, and that it would be amazing if we could all just relax and realize that, after a certain point, it’s out of our hands, I don’t think it’s very practical or realistic advice. Because really, there is no process quite as intimidating, as grueling, and as confusing as the college admissions process. There is no other process in which confused and hormone-riddled teenagers are expected to make life-altering choices, find a way to handle ever-increasing tuitions, or “write an essay somehow inspired by super-huge mustard.” I…what even? In what other situation would it be acceptable or appropriate to demand that of someone?

Therefore, I would like to put forth an alternative idea for anyone still in the midst of this process: accept your stress. Revel in it. Cry a little if you need to. Cry a lot if you need to. Because no matter how hard you work or how organized you are, sometimes, the college admissions process just sucks. It’s hard, it’s weird, it’s stupid— and it’s okay to recognize that and feel stressed out as a result. But no matter how bad you’re feeling now, you should also realize that this will end eventually, and when it’s all done you won’t have to worry about your SAT scores or AP tests ever again.

I was one of the lucky ones who got to finish up early, and for that I am immensely grateful. But for those of you still working on essays or studying “useful” vocabulary (number of times I’ve been glad I know what “florid” means: zero), I hope you remember that the things you’re feeling are temporary.

Well, I guess this is what I’ve learned: Work like crazy now, let the stress come as it may, and remember that it will get better. Promise.

You can get in touch with Celeste by shooting her a message on her Tumblr



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the author

Celeste Barnaby is a senior at a tiny private school in Reno, Nevada, also known as the Neon Babylon. She has committed to attend Wesleyan University and plans to major in film studies (but she's keeping an open mind). When she’s not stressing out over her schoolwork or procrastinating said work, she enjoys horseback riding, writing macabre short stories, and shopping for flannels. You can observe her attempts at humor and various television-related obsessions on her Tumblr.

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  1. Prospect Follower on January 3, 2014

    Congratulations on the happy ending to your story!!! I’ve followed you from the beginning, and this post made me smile and cry at the same time (LOVE that Target ad). Good luck at Wesleyan!!!!

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