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Jada Alexander Headshot

The Slow March to April

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This is part of our monthly series 'Mission: Accepted,' in partnership with Minds Matter, which chronicles the lives of three students as they apply for college in their senior year.

December 1: Okay, Jada, you have a month left to get these apps done. You've got this!

December 10: I can't do this. This is not happening. Why do I still have 20 supplemental essays to go?

December 20: I don't think I can finish. It's not going to happen.

December 23: I give up.

December 25: Christmas who?

December 26-29: Alright, time to suck it up and get these supplements done. After that, I'm finished! I can relax and enjoy the New Year!

December 30: Two days before the January 1 deadline. "So, that's it? You're done... with... everything?" my mom asks. I let out a hesitant sigh of relief. "It's about time," I say.

I did it. I didn't give up. I actually did it! More than half of my schools required additional essays -- and I'm not talking about more personal statements. I'm talking about The Question, the one that most schools throw at us to see who knows their stuff, to see who's really passionate about attending a particular college: "Why ____ University?" This has to be the most difficult question of all. It sounds like a trick, as if each school is looking for a particular answer. And then you go through this mind game with yourself to figure out what exactly that answer could be. After hours of this, and after highlighting an essay and deleting the entire thing more times than I can count, I decided that no, maybe these schools aren't expecting a certain answer. I think they're just curious about what makes each of us want to apply. Sometimes the stress of the application process completely shreds my hope that these colleges could possibly care about each and every one of us and what we have to say. But maybe, just maybe, they really do.

I was under the impression that completing my applications would mean the end of stress, the end of frustration. But I was very, very wrong. First of all, no one tells you that once you're finished, you actually miss having an excuse to complain about getting your schoolwork done when you have so much else to do. Now the teachers are saying, "You got all your applications in, now you can really focus on school again!" Exciting, indeed. And you know what else no one tells you? How excruciating and utterly agonizing the wait is. Ah, the wait. What we're all experiencing now. French-Braid Guy (he also goes by Leroy) and I constantly rant about just wanting to know already! Rejection or acceptance, I just want to know my options. I want to know what four years of high school has gotten me. The curiosity is absolutely killing me.

Within days of submitting my applications, I received an email from a Harvard alumna to schedule an interview. My heart raced at full speed. Harvard tries to get interviews with as many prospective students as they can. Leroy had gotten a similar email from an alum the day before, and I had attempted to calm him down and give him some advice (he was freaking out too). When I got my email, everything I said to Leroy went out the window for some reason. I began to realize how different all of this felt from my interviews with U Chicago and GW -- the ones I had arranged myself. Now Harvard was making the first move. I immediately "stalked" my interviewer on Google to get a sense of who I'd be talking to -- I thought it was only fair since she asked for my resumé. As it turns out, she made me feel at ease despite how nervous I was. Our conversation mostly branched off of my resumé, so we talked about my involvement with the debate team, my experiences at Phillips Exeter Academy's and Brown University's summer programs, and, of course, what it's like being a blogger. For the latter, I mostly talked about the challenge of writing for an audience. I also couldn't help but gush over how much I enjoy writing these posts. They're the only relatively lengthy, close-to-essay things I write that I don't dread. All in all, the interview went great and I could finally relax a little. I should've known better than to apply to so many competitive and selective schools, though. Soon after my interview with Harvard, I received an email from a Tufts alumna about an interview -- and soon after that, I received emails from Brown, Columbia, and Stanford. I also received a letter from Boston University about an interview for the BU scholarship, which I applied for in early December. If I'm accepted to BU, the scholarship will cover my tuition for all four years (more on this next month)!

In other news, I'm starting an important new list of scholarships. I don't come from a financially well-off family, so I'm counting on financial aid and scholarships to help me out. Finding scholarships is simpler than I thought -- I'm eligible for some just because I'm mixed race, or just because I'm from Boston, or just because I want to study education. I definitely encourage seniors to look for scholarships and apply to as many as possible -- even if it's only for a few hundred dollars (hey, textbooks aren't cheap!).

Maybe you've just finished up applications with February deadlines. Or perhaps you're finishing up the FAFSA and CSS Profile. Maybe you're applying for scholarships or going on interviews. Perhaps you've already heard back from some schools. Or maybe you're waiting too. I think right now, we're all essentially waiting. April, must you really take your sweet time to arrive?