So lately, HuffPost Teen has had lots of blog posts on what it's like to get accepted, rejected, wait-listed, etc. All of this is bringing me back to last year when I was in that same position of waiting for that big envelope or hoping to get that phone call from a scholarship organization. A lot of these pieces written have more or less dealt with hoping things will work out and everything happens for a reason.
As a college student who's nearing the end of their freshman year, I can assure you that they truly will work out for the best. Right now, I love being at the University of Arizona, and I feel so blessed to have gotten the scholarships that I did. Because I know how stressful and hurtful it can be to be in this phase of the college application process, I decided to make a "to-do" list for all y'all still waiting to hear back from universities and/or scholarship foundations to help you trust that things will work out -- and relax a little!
1. Get rejected
I'm betting everyone that goes through that dreaded college application process doesn't get everything they want. For me, I wasn't really shooting to go Ivy League or anything (FYI: The only Ivy League school I applied to was Brown, where I got wait-listed.) I was instead applying to this prestigious Arizona scholarship that accepts 20 students a year. I spent days perfecting my application, down to the last comma. I made it to semi-finals, which meant an interview, and then got rejected.
On the day that the decision letters were sent out, I left school early because I was so desperate to see the results. To my dismay, I got a very polite rejection letter, stating that typical "this year was overwhelmingly competitive and you should be proud to have made it this far." Honestly, it was heartbreaking; I still kind of think that that rejection letter broke my heart more than a boy ever has.
For me, the worst part was having to tell my counselor, teachers and friends that I hadn't made it to the finals after I had spent months gushing to them about how getting this scholarship was my dream; it just made the rejection so much more real. (I'll get into how to deal with getting rejected later.)
2. You should also probably get accepted places...
So, this isn't actually a real step, granted that you've already finished all your applications. I'm not saying that college is the right path for everyone, but if you're this far into a blog post about dealing with college rejection and whatnot, you probably want to go to college somewhere.
3. Let yourself be upset/sad/angry/however you truly feel about getting rejected.
I am a huge Gilmore Girls fan. One of my favorite episodes is the season 1 episode where Rory struggles getting over her first breakup. She makes a very ambitious to-do list, deciding that the best way to deal with her break-up is to just accomplish everything ever. Lorelai, her mom, advises her to wallow, which entails watching sappy movies, pigging out and just crying things out. Basically, Rory keeps rejecting this advice until the end of the episode where she realizes that she does in fact need to wallow.
What I'm getting at is that you should let yourself feel upset after getting rejected. My immediate response after getting rejected was similar to Rory's; I decided that I would just become the most productive person ever -- and this continued for two months until I finally had this kind of nervous breakdown that involved lots of screaming (and some minor destruction to my bedroom...) while my parents tried to console me. (College application season can get cray cray!) I get that it really hurts your self-confidence and self-concept to get rejected, especially when you had gotten very attached to what kind of future you would have had if you got accepted -- and you think that maybe it's embarrassing or pointless or time-wasting to wallow. But, you should let yourself just admit how you really feel instead of letting your anger and disappointment build up. Pent-up emotions aren't good for anyone.
Also, you might feel embarrassed or upset having to tell your counselors, teachers, friends, family, etc. that you got rejected. But in my experience, they will end up remembering your accomplishments, not your failure. They'll feel proud of your achievements and what kind of future you'll have, not feel sorry for you about your losses.
4. Decide where you want to go, what scholarship you want to accept, etc.
This doesn't require much explanation. Like I said before, you probably want to go to college somewhere so you'll have to decide where that somewhere is.
Personally, I struggled to decide which in-state university to attend. Every university has its own pros and cons, and you have to decide what you value. There are lots of blog posts and articles out there on what to take into consideration when deciding where to go to school, and you should definitely read through some of these. But you're really the only one who can make the right decision here.
5. And, then follow through with your decisions in step 4.
This may also seem like it's not a real step either. I mean, you're not doing anything you wouldn't have normally done. But a year after I got rejected from multiple scholarships (like I said, I was more focused on scholarships than prestigious schools), I can honestly say that I'm happy to be where and when I'm at. I've got mad school pride (bear down!), opportunities on end and tons of fellow Wildcats to befriend!
For all you high school seniors out there, just keep calm and wait on. Each stage of the college application process is brutal in its own way, but you're this close to being done. Right now, you're hoping that everything will work out for the best, and I'm assuring you that they truly will.
So, I hope that you feel truly proud of yourself for each of your acceptances and awards. I also hope that you don't let a few rejections define you. And, a year from now, I hope you'll take a good look at the college campus you're at and just take in everything. Take in your college's mascot and school pride. Take in the feel and style of the campus. Take in the relationships and friendships you've built here. Take in that feeling of how right it feels to be here... because things will work out how they're supposed to. Trust me.
If you're a high school senior, how are you feeling about waiting to hear back? Stressed, calm, or just completely done with school because of senioritis? If you're in college/past high school, are you glad that you made the choice you did? Let me know in the comments!