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Jennifer Islam Headshot

Second is the Best

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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.

I read the letter from New York University about five times before the rejection actually sunk in. I was sure I had the grades, and my essays were practically Pulitzer-worthy. Plus, NYU just seemed made for me -- I loved its vibrant Greenwich Village location and all the unique programs it had to offer. I didn't understand why my dream school had turned me down. Many thoughts rushed through my head, but there was one that kept recurring: What now? I had my heart set on NYU. I've wanted to go there since freshman year of high school, when I first heard about the Tisch School of the Arts. NYU has all of my potential majors: I could have studied to be a CEO, music producer, computer engineer, filmmaker, actress or a pathologist. The possibilities were endless. I'd even starting looking up restaurants where I could grab food between classes. I had visions of meeting the Sprouse twins (current NYU students) and taking classes at one of the best film schools in the world. And violet is such a good color on me.

I was so depressed that I Googled "how to deal with a college rejection." The first two sites that popped up were Psychology Today and College Confidential. The best advice these sites gave me was to get over it and move on because there is nothing more I can do about it. Then, after two days of nonstop moping -- listening to "Bohemian Rhapsody" on repeat, overeating frozen yogurt and watching endless hours of YouTube videos and anything related to One Direction -- my friend Allison hit me with an obvious fact: I can be anything I want if I work really hard for it, no matter where I go to school. I'm going to have an amazing college experience regardless of where I go because I'm the one who controls it. I decide whether to sit alone in my dorm room or join clubs and bond with my roommates. And just because I won't be going to NYU doesn't mean I have to give up theatre, and it certainly doesn't mean I'm not going to make new friends. I did not get accepted to NYU because it wasn't the right fit for me, and I'm OK with that now because I have a lot of other colleges to choose from.

I was accepted to several schools, including Rutgers, Adelphi, Hunter and Queens, but I have decided to attend Stony Brook University on Long Island. It's an excellent school for medicine, which has been a growing interest of mine. I'll be able to live in a dorm, which is what I've been fighting for, but Stony Brook is close enough to the city that I can come home on the weekends or whenever I need to. I'm looking forward to the chance to be an RA (resident advisor), which is a great way to make new friends, pay for my education and relax without a roommate (RAs get to live in singles). Overall, there are many signs that pointed to this school. It was the second one to accept me, and as the saying goes, "First is the worst, second is the best..." Plus, the school colors are red and white, and I just so happen to already have a foam finger that's red and white!

Since making my decision, I've done more research about the classes offered at Stony Brook (there's one on Bollywood!) and on the school's traditions, like the annual Roth Regatta tournament where students race boats made of cardboard and duct tape. All of this has intensified my excitement! I cannot wait until the first day of school, when I wake up and walk to classes five minutes away from where I sleep -- I haven't been able to do that since elementary school. I still have a few big worries, like how to pay for everything and how I'll get along with my roommate, but for now I have just one thing on my mind: 'Who's a Seawolf? I'm a Seawolf!'