A notification on your phone pops up, and you slide it across your screen, ignoring the email from the college you've dreamed of attending since you were ten years old. You take a deep breath, and turn on computer. Your shaking fingers quiver over the keyboard, typing in the URL for the admissions portal, hovering over each key before they click the right combination to your username and password.
A bar races across the screen with those exact words, your heart beating faster than it ever has before. Your sweaty finger traces itself down the trackpad, and you hit the "View Now" button.
This is it.
We are sorry to inform you...
Oh no. Your heart sinks. The Champion sweatshirt you had so eagerly bought on a college visit last summer clings to your skin, the logo on its front seems to detach and burn.
Your eyes scan the letter rapidly. Maybe you'll be waitlisted, or offered a conditional acceptance? Your brain tries to console you as you search for the golden words. But alas, all you see is...
We wish you all the best for your future.
It's over. All those years of cramming and pulling all-nighters, and playing tennis through rain or shine were for nothing. All those C2 tutoring classes for that 50 point SAT score increase were worthless. All those summers spent volunteering, all those clubs you joined and paid dues for, were for naught. If the college you wanted to attend doesn't see value in them, what's the point of it anyway?
Holistic admission reviews are a blessing and a curse. On one hand, Nina with the 36 ACT won't get in just because of her perfect score. But on the other hand, when you do get rejected from your top choice, it feels like you weren't chosen, because they didn't like you.
As a seasoned senior who may not have gotten into every college she applied to, I'm here to tell you that you're going to be okay.
"Of course," you say, "I'm going to be okay. But will I be good?"
While the pains of being rejected from your dream school may not ever go away, you should not take this rejection to mean that you, as an individual, aren't good enough.
College admissions are random and unpredictable. Even valedictorians playing varsity sports with perfect standardized testing scores and essays that would make a grown man cry get rejected from Ivy Leagues. Nobody truly understands what goes on in the minds of an admissions council, even though if you search online, you'll find about a hundred different websites that try.
All you can really do when you apply to colleges is be your best, most authentic self. That's what colleges want to see when they look at your application. And yes, if you get rejected, it's easy to take that to mean they didn't like you.
But being rejected from a college only means what you let it. If you let that make you a discouraged individual that feels like they need to change who they are because they're not attending a specific college, that's what you'll become. Instead, if you let that drive you forward and accomplish things that you never thought you could before at the university you do go on to attend, that's what will happen as well.
Even if you do go to a university that wasn't your top choice for undergraduate school, there's nothing saying you can't transfer into the school you'd wanted to go to in the first place, or even pursue a graduate program there.
You have too much potential to let yourself be devalued by a group of admissions officers. Yes, they are esteemed, respectable, and doing their job, but you are also growing, and changing, and evolving into becoming an individual with a unique purpose and role in our world. Don't let a rejection stop you from reaching your full potential.
Life has many setbacks. College rejections are just one of them. They are difficult to handle, may lead to some tears, and may crush some hopes, but are not invincible. Instead of letting it overpower you, bounce back and prove that you can succeed in any setting, at any university that you go to.
To all of my disappointed senior brethren, you are not alone. Believe me, you'll make ten-year-old you proud in ways you don't even know right now. Trust the universe, and keep pushing through.
The future is yours.