I’ll never forget the day I received an email from my dream university, UCLA. One click of the mouse held the verdict of the future I planned and worked hard for my entire high school career. I was excited, overwhelmed and anxious beyond measure. As I clicked on my unread email with great anticipation, prepared to do my victory dance and celebrate with my family, I took a step backwards while reading the first line.
“Dear Julia,” the email read. Well, at least they got my name right. “After a record number of applications, we’re sorry that we cannot offer you a space…”
Thrown in were some good-natured sentiments about how there were a lot of spaces and sorry, you weren’t one of them. I finished reading the email and immediately ran to my bed, feeling crushed. I thought I had this whole college admissions thing in the bag, and now it seemed as if all my dreams were defined in my rejection letter. After putting all my hopes and expectations in one school, I felt lost and disappointed that it didn’t feel the same way.
The class of 2016 is already receiving their admission letters, and while it should be a time of joy and pride, students often feel anything but. Don’t follow in my footsteps by being disappointed and crying to the soundtrack of “Frozen.” If you got rejected from your dream school, remember these three simple truths.
It isn’t your fault. When a college rejection letter comes in the mail, it is easy to immediately invalidate everything you have ever done and view your experiences as a high school student as incomplete or inadequate. It’s not true. Many universities have rigorous application requirements with expectations that are often left unknown to anyone but the admissions board. You could have the perfect SAT, the most extracurricular activities, or the best GPA, but it could be true that the college wasn’t looking for things like that. At the end of the day, you worked hard to get where you are, and that’s something your application letter won’t tell you.
It’s not the end of the world. There are so many colleges and universities that would absolutely love to have you walk through their door. Whether it’s expanding your knowledge of other universities that may be better suited to your goals or working hard to transfer to your dream school, there are still opportunities to attend a great learning institution. When I decided to commit to attending a school different from my dream school, of course I was disappointed. However, I currently love the university that I attend and the major I am pursuing. If anything, UCLA will always be an option for my graduate school education.
It’s not a reason to be mad at the people who did get accepted. Perhaps there will be someone at your high school that gets into your dream university. This does not justify being unkind or rude to them because they got into the school and they did, nor does it excuse them being pretentious or bragging. Once graduation is over, everyone paves his or her own path. How they get there should not be criticized. We must love and support one another in a society that encourages anything but.
Although your college experience might not be what you predicted, that doesn’t mean you are anything less than the student you worked to be. Do not be fearful of rejection, but rather be empowered by it, for you are building your own empire brick by brick.
Julia Schemmer is a member of UC Riverside class of 2019, pursuing a B.A. in political science with an emphasis in international affairs. This story originally ran in High School Insider.