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Emily Truong Headshot

The Four Stages of Rejection

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1. Denial
"Hmm," I said when I read Yale's admission decision. "Hmm," I said again when I read Columbia's. Both letters started out the same way: "Sorry, but we won't be able to offer you a place in our class of 2017... "

I pinched myself, hoping this was a nightmare. But alas, this was cold, hard reality. Still, I refused to face the truth. "Maybe they made a mistake," I thought. "Maybe, maybe, maybe... " I read the letters again. Then I shut down my computer and turned on The Vampire Diaries, trying to forget about my failure and the bitter disappointment I couldn't help feeling.

2. Anger
At bedtime, I got mad. Yale and Columbia rejected me. They REJECTED me. They deemed me NOT GOOD ENOUGH to attend their institutions. What about me was not worthy? My SAT scores were awesome; I interned at the Cleveland Clinic and blog for The Huffington Post. But apparently these weren't impressive enough accomplishments. What did I have to do? Seriously? Invent a freaking cure for cancer or publish a novel at the tender age of 16? I cursed Yale and Columbia. They don't want me. Fine. Who needs their overpriced education anyway?

3. Depression
In the morning, the cold, hard reality hit me all over again. Yale and Columbia rejected me. I'm not going to lie: A little part of me -- okay, a big part of me -- wanted to cry. I wasn't good enough. I had worked my butt off during high school, but did Yale and Columbia care about that? Guess not. I loved -- who am I kidding? I still love these schools. But they didn't return my feelings.

I groaned into my pillow. Why? Why?

4. Acceptance
By the afternoon, I had started to accept the rejections. So Yale and Columbia didn't offer me admission. So what? Obviously I was hurt, but it doesn't mean I won't go on to be successful somewhere else. After all, I have offers from other schools -- and they are great schools. Kenyon has an awesome English program (hello, John Green, one of the best writers of this century!), and the University of Chicago is ranked fourth in the nation. Plus, both schools have offered me amazing financial aid packages. When I saw their finalized awards, I went, "Whoa, baby!" The cost of attending Kenyon: $56,810. The amount of loans I would have to take out: $0, baby. The cost of attending the University of Chicago: $65,290. The amount of loans I would have to take out: Again, $0.

So, yeah, I really, really, really wanted to go to an Ivy League school. It's been a dream of mine since middle school, and I wanted to prove myself worthy of the world's best schools. But I realize now that I don't need to. The Ivies aren't the only great schools in the world. However, now I need to make a decision between Kenyon and the University of Chicago. And unlike choosing between spending two hours on painful calculus problems and watching The Vampire Diaries, this decision will be incredibly, unbelievably difficult.

But wherever I go, I will be happy -- even if it's not Yale or Columbia.