“Sometimes” life not going the way you want it to is a huge understatement. It doesn’t go how you plan very often. Sometimes, it’s a blessing. Other times, it can be down right dreadful.

I spent years combing through websites and search tools to come up with the perfect list of schools to apply to. I ended up making quick decisions in the end that I didn’t think through (read: ‘Twas the night before most applications were due when all through the house everyone was having a good time because it was New Year’s Eve while Sarah sat on her bed frantically deciding which colleges to impulsively apply to within three hours…I ended up applying to six colleges in a three hour window. Go me…). After applying to thirteen schools, I found myself with nine acceptance letters, one (pretty exciting actually) wait list letter, and three rejection letters. Actually, two, because I set Barnard’s ablaze as soon as I received it. I should have saved it, it would have looked nice above my desk in the Oval Office some day. Regardless, I had a lot of decisions to make.

Emerson College was my second choice. I wanted to go there so badly and stopped at nothing to make ends meet. Sometimes, hard work only gets a person so far.

The day I figured out I couldn’t go to Emerson my heart broke. I could feel it ripping apart in my chest. My stomach permanently sunk for about a week. I cried a lot. I ate a lot. I was probably not the best person to be around at that point either. But, I knew that I was going to have to make the best out of my time at UConn, since I could only afford two schools on my list now, the only two state schools I had applied to. I live down the street from one, so that was out of the question. UConn had the big state school feeling I had always desired throughout the process that made me question whether I really wanted to be in a city or not.

I guess that now would be an excellent time to profess my absolute, undying love for New York City. I feel more comfortable there than I do in my small, suburban town. I crave the busyness and find comfort in knowing that there is something going on 24/7 there.

I wanted to move to the city for college. New York City is only two and a half hours away from where I live. I figured that it would be really easy to get an internship during the school year while there. I thought about it more, and realized that I also really like Boston. It has a laid back vibe-well, in contrast to Manhattan it does at least, and I love the rich history it has. It’s also packed with colleges, so I knew that I would have the ability to meet people from around the world there. Like New York, it also offers a lot of opportunity. And then, I thought about how much I love politics. I’m a political science major. I plan on being involved with our government in some way someday, whether it’s as Commander-in-Chief of our country or as a mayor, senator, or congresswoman. I knew that I had to apply to a school in Washington, D.C. or else I would be doing myself a disservice. I regret not applying to more schools there. I should have applied to a school in Chicago and Los Angeles, too. I should have applied to different places, but I cannot go back now.

None of the schools I applied to met full need except Barnard. I applied Early Decision to Barnard and was rejected. I didn’t begin to feel the pain of it until a month or two later as I began to throw out all of the materials I had collected from them throughout the past year and a half I was in love with them. It was the worst break up I have ever had.

After realizing that I wasn’t going to be able to afford any of the schools I wanted to go to, I cried. I tried to find things that I loved about UConn, and I have. If you stick around and watch my journey through college, you will get to see exactly what I am talking about. I have found my niches and I’m really excited to start exploring!

Before the college admissions process I used to think that opportunity was something that came about when you were in a certain place and just so happened to be lucky enough for it to drop into your lap.  Now I know that isn’t true at all. Opportunity is something that I can control. I have the ability to control what I do, who I talk to, and how I go about my life. I have built up a platform for myself and I am now reaping the rewards. I still have a lot of work ahead of me, but I will not stop until I have achieved world domination. I am going to do what I want in life. It might take me more time because I’m not where I want to be location wise, but I still have the power to excel thanks to various organizations, outlets, and of course, the Internet. I am here today, standing on my own two feet, because I decided to make something out of myself and do something productive with my time.

My state university has more majors, activities, and resources than all of the schools I applied to. Even if yours doesn’t, you still have many opportunities to excel. Most people in the United States attend state universities. Regardless of what society impresses upon us to believe, community college, state colleges, and state universities are not for uneducated people or people who do not have the ability to excel at a private school.

College is what you make of it. If you find yourself having a horrible time then figure out how to make yourself happy. Go after every opportunity you can and treat every day as a new beginning. The second part of that sentence is really corny, but in all seriousness, this is your life, it’s time to take control of it.

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the author

Sarah Wiszniak is a student at the University of Connecticut. She is a college writer and video blogger for The Prospect, a national video blogger for HerCampus.com, and has her own college admissions blog. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys pondering political theory, crafting, and taking meaningless Buzzfeed quizzes. Her favorite flowers are daisies and she plans on ruling Washington, D.C. one day.

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  1. Katie Dwyer on March 29, 2015

    “Opportunity is something that I can control.” YES! I love this. Your story is really moving, and it does sound like your change of mindset has led to some truly wonderful experiences and opportunities.

    I had the experience of choosing a dream school that is a lot of other people’s safety schools–I went to the University of Oregon because I fell in love with the campus, the activities, the Honors College, the vibe… and proceeded to meet a bunch of fellow students who were grumpy to be there and consequently were having a rotten time. Most of them came around eventually, and meanwhile I felt so lucky every day to be at a school that was the right fit for me.

    Thanks so much for sharing your story! I hope you keep making college the awesome place you’ve created so far.


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