Dear seniors in high school: It’s that time of the school year, when second semester comes around, and so do all of the college decisions. The anticipation of the arrival of your admission decisions is nothing short of stressful, and nerve-racking. To those of you who have received the decisions you were hoping for, congratulations. You deserve to be proud and excited for the future that lies ahead. But if your news was not so great, I hope you will take the time to read and embrace this when you are ready to do so.
So you didn’t make it into your dream school. I’m sure everyone has already told you that it will be okay, that this is a sign that you weren’t meant to go there. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but they’re right.
I was denied from my top-choice college, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
They had it all: One of the best journalism programs, amazing athletics, beautiful campus, great academics, and a place that I thought I would be able to call home for the next four years of my life. However, like many things in life, it didn’t turn out that way.
I read my letter of denial over and over again, a new wave of tears forming each time. I was devastated, and for the first time, scared I wasn’t going to go to a college that I loved. My dream school. I’m sure you felt this way too, like the future you were hoping for was suddenly wiped away by a single letter, from one university, written by a dean who really has no idea who you are other than what is in the files in front of them.
And that’s the thing, these colleges have no idea who you truly are, no matter how many extracurriculars you put on your application, or how high your test scores were. So don’t take it personally because, well, they’ve never met you in person. This is probably easier said than done at first.
When I read my denial letter, it took me a few days to realize that yes, I was still going to go to college and I was still going to be happy wherever I ended up going.
Some people believe that everything happens for a reason. I am one of them.
Was I a perfect candidate to attend UNC? Maybe. Did the world end when I got denied? No. I wiped my eyes, and kept moving forward, knowing that bigger and better things were still to come my way, just not at that school.
If there is one thing that I think we should take away from this, it’s that everybody has to go through some sort of rejection in their lives in order to understand that life isn’t always going to go as you planned. It’s uncertain, as most things are, but that is not always a bad thing.
Like breakups, losing championship games, and many other unfavorable outcomes that come close to heartbreaking, you will get over this.
Maybe not tomorrow, or the next day, but you will be okay. This will not be the last disappointment that comes into your life, and it will not be the most devastating thing you’ve experienced either. It is important to maintain this perspective as you move towards the end of the school year, preparing to commit to another institution.
In a year from now, you will still be at college, knowing that the work you did now and the effort you put into your application has paid off. I urge you to maintain this faith not only in yourself, but in the college you will be attending come this fall, wherever it may be.
Also published on Medium.