College Admissions: Excitement, Disappointment, Betrayal

So I was looking through my drafts, and found this one piece from early April that I finally finished. I think it is a valuable piece for incoming high school seniors to read. Enjoy!

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April 2016

Well, it’s that time of the year again- college admissions! An exciting and understandably nerve wracking time of the year for the class of 2016, filled with both joyous celebration and heartbreaking disappointment. We’ve made it through most of high school- both the best and worst four years of our lives. We began our journey’s as pre-pubescent, timid, COMPLETELY naive freshmen, and ended as mature, responsible, enlightened young adults (or so we hope!)

Passionate and hungry, just the thought of leaving home in half a year to embark on a journey of self-discovery and life-changing experiences gets our hearts fluttering in excitement. We will be free to further existing passions, as well as discover new and unexpected ones. We may find our first loves- heck, even our future spouses! But that’s thinking a little too far ahead… 🙂 Mostly, though, we look forward to the liberation of finally leaving the nest, as well as the challenge of responsibility.

Filled with both joyous celebration and bitter disappointment, the college admissions process marks the next milestone of our lives: the end of childhood and beginning of adulthood and social responsibility. It is, at it’s core, a beautiful celebration of human growth and capacity for achievement.

Sadly, though, I have noticed and experienced firsthand the darker reality of this time: tension, envy and competitiveness put friendships to the test and bring out people’s true colors.

Yes, we are all human. It is completely natural for one to feel envy towards one’s classmate who got into your dream school, while you were left with a pitiful rejection letter. I felt that way when I got rejected from Stanford while three other classmates- all of whom are in my AP Gov/Econ class- got accepted. Underneath the initially painful sting of rejection, I was happy and proud for my friends, for I know they deserved every ounce of that achievement.

I was hurt today, however, when the inherent competitiveness of this time caused a close friend to undermine the  value of our nearly seven year friendship. Long story short, my friend was visibly jealous at my having received a scholarship she greatly coveted. The thing is, she ended up receiving the same scholarship, so why she was so unhappy at my accomplishment is beyond me.

Despite the hurt and anger I initially felt when my friend showed her true colors, I have decided to look past this, for I understand that, while we are friends, the college admissions process is ultimately a competition. As a former gymnast, I know better than most that there is no mercy when competing. Off the carpet, my fellow competitors and I are great pals, going out to dinner after meets. On the carpet, however, it is war. No jokes, no laughs- just focus and determination towards achieving the goal. The same can be said about the college admissions process. Emotions run high when in the competitive zone. While I wish my friend could be happy for me, I know that, no matter how selfless a person you are, it is human nature to put yourself before others, which is why I am willing to look past today’s unfortunate incident.

I just want you guys to know that stuff like this happens as college decisions/scholarships start to roll out. The whole game of “who got into which school” is really petty, however, and causes a lot of unnecessary drama. And at the end of the day, what matters is which school you end up going to, not the ones you got accepted into. My advice is simply to rise above the gossip and drama. If someone asks you what schools you got into, you can either tell them or keep your acceptances to yourself, but don’t feel forced into saying anything you don’t want to say! Another thing- I trust you guys have enough sense to figure this out on your own, but don’t be that person who badgers everyone about where they got into, or boasts about the schools he/she got accepted to. Seriously. Don’t be that person who posts on FB about every. single. college they get accepted into. It’s important to be sensitive to those around you, especially during this time. You may have gotten into a school of your choosing, but the person sitting next to you in math class may still be reeling over a rejection by the same school. Of course you have every right to be excited and proud of getting into colleges! Just be sure to contain the euphoria when around your classmates so you don’t inadvertently strike a tender chord.

Update 12/10/16:

I just finished my first quarter at UCLA, and I’m growing to love my school more and more each day. I’ve just returned home for winter break, and I’m already feeling some nostalgia for my UCLA. Point is, wherever you end up going, you will love it, or learn to love it. When I first began applying for colleges, UCLA was not even on my radar. I had heard of it, and I liked Los Angeles, but I’d always envisioned myself attending an East Coast school, like NYU or Wellesley College. Now, one quarter of my way through college, I honestly could not be happier with my final decision. I love my school, and every one of you will end up being at peace with your final decision. Once you’re in college, you’ll realize how truly petty and unnecessary the high school drama over college decisions was. At the end of the day, as long as you are happy with your decision, it doesn’t matter what others think.

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