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The Bright Side Of Getting Rejected

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

Monday, December 16, 2013 was my final round of interviews with Pomona College under the Posse Foundation. However, three days prior to the appointed day, I received mail from the program stating that I was not chosen to be a Posse Scholar.

As with many seniors seeing this letter, I felt sad and taken by surprise. Yet, after a couple more readings and gathering my thoughts, I decided to take their decision as a positive result. Despite not being selected, I know that someone else is jumping for joy at this very minute seeing his or her acceptance letter, and I am as overjoyed to know that he or she was accepted. If I had received the acceptance as a Posse Scholar, I would have attended Pomona College with full tuition and participated under a Posse Foundation mentorship for the next three years in college.

As a mentee, I would have participated in weekly Posse meet-ups, where we would support each other to comfortably settle into our new classes and environment. However, knowing that another student is now about to enjoy these wonderful benefits of being a Posse Scholar, I sincerely say my congratulations and pray for you the best of luck and good fortune in your new Posse Foundation college. Additionally, this has been a rather large milestone for me during my college application process. Even though I did not become a Posse Scholar, I recognize that I am still an intelligent individual; I will continue to apply to colleges and scholarships so that I will continue my pursuit for my ideal career choice and passion.

I registered for the scholarship at the end of my junior year under the nomination of my counselors. I did not know what to expect from the Posse Foundation, but the initial informational session captured my interest to apply to Pomona College. As such, Posse Foundation is a program in 20 states that partners with over 48 universities to give students the opportunity to apply to highly-selective colleges under Early Decision such as Pomona College, Middlebury College, and Denison University. The program breaks the application method down into three interviews over the course of four months, with the final acceptances being declared in late December. Over the course of these months, Posse Foundation carefully selected and evaluated each applicant to see who would continue to the second and third rounds of the interview process. The first interview consisted of evaluating each student based on how we interacted with each other during various activities, such as building a house out of sipping straws and sharing opinions on controversial questions. Each student was evaluated based on communication, leadership and problem-solving skills.

At first, I was a tad nervous expressing myself to the other students in my group. Yet, as time passed that afternoon, I was able to openly demonstrate my passion for teamwork and strength in speaking about topics like phones in the classroom or security personnel carrying weapons during school hours. I was able to connect to my group efficiently and with great pleasure as each one of us demonstrated our thoughts, leadership and even personality.

Over 15,000 students across the United States applied for the Posse Foundation scholarship. After the first interview, that number decreased to just a few thousand nominees including myself for the second interview round. This time, I was interviewed individually by two Posse Foundation mentors and was required to submit documents that demonstrated my current academic record and activities. At this round of interviews, I felt more confident about answering questions after having experienced the first interview with the group of students. The welcoming atmosphere of the interviewers made the meeting very pleasant and excited my hopes for round three of Posse Foundation. Eventually, I received mail that I had been nominated for the final interview process. The number of students applying for Pomona College under Posse Foundation had been reduced significantly to only 25 students. Before we met the admissions officers of Pomona College, we were given the chance to think over if we wished to continue with the scholarship or withdraw because of the Early Decision feature, which stated that a student must go to the Posse Foundation college upon being accepted. Seeing that I had come so far in the application process, I considered my nomination for the final interview round. There was no backing down, I told myself as my dad and I signed the Early Decision contract. In the next couple of days after the informational meeting, I gathered together a manila folder with my transcript, resume and college application essays ready to be submitted.

As the final interview date approached, my excitement grew immensely. With the help of my mentors from my Saturday ACT program, I was able to feel more confident about the interview because I practiced how and what to respond to the admissions officers' questions. The final round also consisted of a group interview; I was placed in a small team of five students for the first half of the evening, taking turns answering the topic question as honestly and best we could. After the first half was over, I was once again placed in a different group of five students; Being told to act as if we were part of a student council in college, each group was given a sheet of paper that contained a problem that must be resolved by us as a team and under the fairest terms possible. My group was given the topic of either removing or keeping the Indian mascot of the college football team with regards to the complaints of the Native American student organization. Focusing on school safety and fairness, my team voted to replace the mascot and then created a poster detailing what we consented. Each group stood at the front of the room, presented their topic and resolution, and then answered some questions from the other waiting students. I took up the courage to answer a question, making sure to address the student's opinion on the subject and politely qualify as to why my group came down to our final decision. After finishing my response, I honestly felt proud that I put aside my quiet nature in order to demonstrate to the officers that I am capable of comprehending different point of views and supporting my own with good reasons. At the end of the interview, I felt prepared to receive the admissions officers' final decision in the next few days.

Even though I was not accepted, the progress that I made under the Posse Foundation was due to my academic standards, and especially my determination. I demonstrated to the Posse Foundation my personality, my love for education, and my reason for pursuing a career for the purpose of passion and success. I know I did my absolute best to gain a spot at Pomona College. They recognized my value and virtue, and they continuously encouraged me to seek out the college of my dreams -- be it Pomona College or some other institution.

Now, I take pleasure and joy reading through many emails that have acknowledged my hard work in the Posse Foundation. All is not lost for me; I am still eligible to apply for Pomona College under Regular Decision. Knowing this, I feel very excited still, fumbling through the mail to find a letter from their offices. There is no need to give up now; I have learned so much from this sometimes stressful period in my life, and I greatly encourage other seniors to do the same. Graduation may be over four months away, but June comes around sooner than expected. Therefore, as the future of our generation and of the world, we must continue pushing our limits so that we can attend college, discover our passions and be prepared for the unexpected changes in our lives ahead.