02/20/2013 12:19 am ET Updated Apr 21, 2013

Operation: Awesome Future

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.

I stared at the computer screen in disbelief. "My eyes must be deceiving me," I thought, rubbing them. I dropped my hands. "Oh my god, they aren't. This must be a dream then." I pinched myself and winced. "Holy guacamole, this is real." With a huge, goofy grin, I read the screen again:

Dear Emily,
Congratulations! It is my great pleasure to inform you that you have been admitted to the University of Chicago...

I still cannot believe I got into UChicago -- aka the school that's ranked fourth in the nation and the place where Pulitzer Prize winner Philip Roth received his Masters of Fine Arts. Up to this point, it had seemed more like a dream that wouldn't come true than an actual, tangible possibility. Even after I submitted my application, I kept thinking my math SAT score and my extracurricular activities were not good enough. But surprisingly and fortunately, they were. So what if I hadn't conducted some groundbreaking research or gotten a 2400 on the SAT? I had interned at the Cleveland Clinic and my SAT score was pretty darn close to perfect.

My happiness only increased when I looked at the estimated financial aid package. I won't give away any numbers, but let's just say that if my finalized package is anything close to the estimated one, I will be a very, very happy girl and may or may not scream, "OMFG, THIS IS SO FREAKING AWESOME, AND I AM SO HAPPY THAT I COULD, LIKE, DIE RIGHT NOW!" The package included a huge grant, plus I'm up for a University of Chicago scholarship that could mean I won't have to worry about paying off any student loans once I graduate.

Since my acceptance, UChicago was kind enough to send my mom and dad a T-shirt, a hat, a calendar, and a pretty pen, and to send me a T-shirt and a wonderfully warm scarf. Did I mention how much I freaking love the University of Chicago?

To add to the good news, I managed to defeat my senioritis and get all As for the fall semester. I even conquered calculus and my B in commercial art. BOO-YAH! So what's next? First, I still have to wait for decisions from Yale and Columbia. Don't get me wrong, I adore University of Chicago, but Yale and Columbia are the schools I have been dreaming about since I was a freshman. I would like to hear from them before I make any life-changing choices. Second, I have to work on keeping my senioritis in remission. Colleges do look at those pesky second-semester grades, and it will not exactly bode well if they see a line of letters that doesn't include As or Bs. And last but definitely not least, I will work on enjoying the rest of my senior year -- because before I know it, the leaves will start to change color and I will look up at the place where I will spend the next four years.