Photo: Juan Ramos on Unsplash
Dear High School Senior,
It is not only the holiday season, but it is also the college-decision season. Children nationwide are mailing their letters to Santa Claus and universities around the country are shipping out either an acceptance letter, a rejection letter, or that halfway “you’re on hold” waiting list notice.
If you are like me, you worked tirelessly for that A instead of the A-, you joined organizations that you were passionate about, you went above and beyond to make sure you surpassed the general requirements for honor societies, you were “extra” and studied weeks in advance, and you read numerous amounts of college boards with unique tips and tricks to get accepted to your dream school. You anxiously anticipated that envelope that you believe dictates your future. Let me tell you one thing: it certainly does not.
With the constant circulation of overload during a quite intense time of the year, it is important to be mindful about what truly matters most. You have worked tremendously hard throughout your four years in high school; studying that extra hour for that history exam, retaking standardized exams to improve your score by 50 points, volunteering an extra weekend to improve the totality of your service hours, and putting in the extra effort to a club by serving on the executive board. You feel confident that your application resembles the glitz and glamour of your application that schools from California to New York want to see. Before you know it, your application on the Common App is completed, your essay has been proofread numerous times, and you are about to click the button, with all of your progressive hard work on its way to persuade admissions. You truly see yourself at this campus and already have school-spirit apparel in that university’s shopping cart on their website. While you may meet the average GPA and SAT score requirements, you unfortunately may open a rejection letter one afternoon.
The dreaded “we regret to inform you…” introductory paragraph may get to you, but it is crucial to be cognizant that you have performed your absolute best in high school and applications are always subjective. The decision of your application could have easily been influenced by the mood of that admissions counselor, or the fact that one member on the admissions team prefers a soccer team applicant to a track and field runner because of her personal experience with the sport back in the day. Your family and close friends have supported you all the way through, and even though you may not be attending your dream school, there is always another door waiting for you if you persist with that same motivation you have expressed throughout your high school career.
Although I only applied to one school (crazy, I know!), I knew that my school is the place for me. Albeit, I was accepted, yet many of my friends were denied from what they believed were their dream schools and are, in fact, having the time of their lives at an alternative college. You can attend the number one school in the nation or a college that is not on all of those college ranking websites and all that matters is one thing: your determination. If you possess the drive to make meaningful connections with professors, to attend networking events, to be open-minded in assessing everything that your school as to offer, and to apply to internship after internship, you will excel in the direction you have always dreamed about. Trust me, employers care more about the experiences you make throughout your college years than the gilded and prestigious name a school has. Chances are, you will go further with this mindset than individuals who only wanted “the name.”
All in all, you have your entire life- not just college life- ahead of you and it is time to make the most of it! It is certainly okay to feel somewhat heartbroken at this time- you are human. Just know that you have endless pathways of opportunities at your disposal and all it takes is for you to venture through all of the routes. At the end of the day, once you are officially studying as an undergraduate, people do not place so much emphasis on which school they are attending. While it may seem like every college is different, the experience is more similar than you may think. Have faith, be positive, and have high hopes to transform the concept of a dream school to a dream experience!
Victoria Giardina is an 18 student at The College of New Jersey pursuing a Major in Journalism and Professional Writing with a Minor in Communication Studies. Victoria's favorite movie is The Greatest Showman and you can never find her without her planner! As the founder of Kick It Cancer (www.kickitcancer.org) and a news anchor for her campus-wide news station- LTV News, Victoria steps up for community outreach, leadership, and creative storytelling. In the future, Victoria hopes to work in the broadcasting industry in New York City.