The Hourglass

An Open Letter to All College Applicants

Why A Rejection Letter Is Not The End

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April/May 2016

Millions of students apply to colleges and universities each year. Not all of them will attend their first choice. But all applicants do have one common thread: stress.

I was one of those seniors, nervous, anxious, scared of college admissions. That was, until April.

Like many applicants, I had my heart set on one institution. In my eyes, the school was perfect. Size, location, people…. you name it. I spent all of high school working to achieve that perfect transcript, years studying for that standardized test, and months working on those college essays.

Beyond academics, I captained three varsity sports, was elected head of multiple school clubs, volunteered with local organizations, and held a summer job.

I applied early, demonstrating to the school that they were my first choice and that I desperately wanted to attend for the next four years.

I was rejected.

Crushed. That is really the only way to describe my emotions following that rejection letter. The admissions office had single handedly crushed both my collegiate dreams and my confidence. “If this school doesn’t want me, why would any other school?” I remember thinking.

And while I knew my friends and family were only trying to help, their advice was frustrating:

“It will all work out…” – Not helpful. For all they knew, I would be rejected from every school I was applying to.

“Everything happens for a reason…” – But what if that is just simply not true?

However, there was one piece of advice that resonated with me:

“Why would you want to attend a school that does not want you?”

At first, that annoyed me. I still saw the school as a perfect fit – it was where I wanted to spend my college years. But the more I thought about it, the more research I did, I discovered aspects of the school that I did not love — hated, even.

College admissions have become so competitive, and students are told they need a perfect application in order to be considered seriously. But what is the perfect application? A 4.0 GPA? Strong extracurriculars? Amazing essays? No one knows the ideal formula.

Rarely is a student accepted to every institution she applies to. Every admissions office is different, looking for different features from different applications.

My point is that students should not tweak and adjust their application into something that does not remotely resemble themselves in an effort to produce a “perfect” application.

Because when you are accepted, you will know that the school wants you for you. Love the school that loves you. Take deep breaths, and trust that great things await you.

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An Open Letter to All College Applicants