Dear Hopeful High School Senior,
The first wave of college admissions is less than a month away and when you get that fated email, you're going to hold your breath, you're going to check it over and over again to make sure this is actually happening and you're going to feel like the whole world is frozen. If you get in, you'll leap for joy. This is it, you're done, it's over, enjoy the rest of your senior year. If you don't, however, you might feel like it's the end of the world. The things is, the world isn't going to end and you are more than the cheesy rejection letter Stanford tagged your name on.
Do something for me: take a moment for yourself, play your favorite song, sing to yourself at the top of your lungs and set aside the essay you were procrastinating anyways. Now that you've done that, I want you to tell yourself the facts.
Let's stick with Stanford for this example. In 2016, 43,997 applicants applied, of those only 2114 were accepted. To put things into perspective, a grand total of 4.8% of all applicants received a congratulations email. That means that you can be top of your class, get a perfect SAT score, be the captain of two different teams and spend every weekend volunteering, and still be rejected. You are not defined by the statistics. Your character and self-worth cannot be represented by a few sheets of Common Application data. So do not forget this, a rejection means nothing in the face of infinite room for arbitrariness and error.
My senior year was a whirlwind. I still remember it now: applying and opening letters to exactly twenty-four universities. The impact didn't hit me as hard and I was accepted into various prestigious universities. What hurt me was the brute force admissions hit my closest friends and classmates with.
I still remember it, the way they held themselves after being rejected from their dream schools, the way they asked themselves "why." The day I was accepted into my first choice program, one of my best friends was rejected from the same program. It was quite literally one of the worst days in my life. I remember the struggle, and now, almost a year later, I want to tell you this:
Be strong. Have courage. Never stop loving yourself. These days will pass sooner or later and the next few months will make you a stronger person regardless of how many colleges you add to your scorecard. There is a path for you, I promise.
Lastly, if you're looking for the why and the truth, stop your search. The truth has been staring at you the whole time. It's all a game, some things are out of your control and, regardless of everything else, you are worth everything and more.
A College Freshman
Lead Image Credit: Alexandre Chambon via Unsplash