Putting futures on the line: The gravity of college rejections

Being a senior is a puzzling mix of emotions. There’s Senior Thanksgiving, the last football season, the senior lunch line, the last prom and other festivities all set up to make senior year feel like the best. In contrast, the thought of leaving friends and family behind next year, and ending one of the most influential experiences is pretty daunting. The worst part, personally, has been the college admissions process.

I have dealt with the greatest feeling of rejection this year than ever before in my life. Frankly, this feeling is extremely trivial in the scheme of life, but I have been so blessed growing up to where I’ve never really had to deal with any level of failure until now. Three of the colleges I applied to this year deferred me to the next deadline, deciding that my application wasn’t good enough to accept automatically. Saying it now makes me feel a tad dramatic, considering no rejections have come my way yet, but for some reason it felt crushing.

Essentially what they told me is that instead of giving me a decision before Christmas time like they had originally stated, I would now have to wait until April 1 at the latest. What that meant was that even though I did all of the work early to apply for Early Action, any resemblance of a schedule I had for picking a college was delayed four months.

For a month or two, I felt like everything I did and everything I worked to do in the past didn’t really mean much. Putting what felt like all my achievements, all of my passions and personality down on an application just for colleges to essentially say “we’ll get back to you later” was quite humbling. Clearly, this is a first-world problem by many standards, I know.

However, I know a few of my friends who received the same deferrals, and even some rejections, and I would just like to help anyone going through something similar with advice I’ve gradually learned.

The reality is that the college admissions process can never and will never determine anyone’s worth. In our school district especially, the goal set for many students is to get exceptional grades, take a lot of APs, be as involved as possible, and then an amazing college will accept them. Sometimes, this can be true; I’ve watched some of my peers get into ivy leagues and top tier universities they’ve been dreaming of their whole life. Sometimes, it can also be terribly untrue; I’ve watched some of the most interesting and dedicated of my peers get denied from those same schools.

As I begin to receive my college decision letters in a couple months, I’m expecting to probably have a few rejections, and hopefully have more acceptances. However, I’ve learned that what schools offer me acceptance does not define who I am. Absolutely, I would be honored to gain admission to the competitive schools I’ve applied to, but my competitive spirit won’t just dissipate if I do receive rejections. It’s so crucial for anyone going through this process to remember that someone else’s opinion doesn’t change one’s character and validity, no matter who says that it does (whether it be tough parents, critical ‘friends’, or anything of the sort). I know that my dedication and perseverance will set me on the right path, and rejection from schools I like will just make the path look a little different. I hope everyone going through any type of rejection can remember this always. However, I know it can really hurt, and that’s more than OK.

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