12/31/2013 10:49 am ET Updated Mar 02, 2014

Your 'Dream School' Doesn't Determine Your Worth

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.

December 13, 2013. 5:23 p.m. This was the day I received the best Christmas gift I ever could have wished for.

A little over a month ago, I applied to Stanford University through Restrictive Early Action. As the notification day drew closer, I became more and more anxious. This was my dream, but it was also the dream of 7,000 other applicants. For a whole month, I wondered if I did all that I could do to make myself a competitive applicant and after many "sleepless" nights, the day finally came.

Quite typical of me, I had a countdown app on my phone leading up to this day. As I stared at my countdown, days crept by like years. Were my personal statements and supplemental essays thought-provoking? Did I make myself shine through my extracurricular activities and academic transcript? Could my readers see that I would be a perfect fit for their school?

Questions like these ran through my mind up to the moment I learned of the decision.
On that fateful day -- Friday the 13th to be exact -- I had something similar to an out-of-body experience. I expected to be jittery and nervous, but I was unexpectedly extremely calm. I went through my school day like it was any other, focusing in class and just having a good time with friends. I did not even pull out my phone the second the clock struck 3 p.m. -- the time decisions were supposed to be released. I told myself I would wait until my parents arrived back home after 5 p.m. to either celebrate with me on my acceptance or comfort me over my rejection. My mom and I had even agreed that if I was admitted, I would be taken out to dinner and if I was rejected, I would be given my Christmas gift early to console me. An hour passed. No email from Stanford. Another hour passed; and yet there was still nothing. I began to get extremely nervous not only because I thought I would receive my email between 3 and 4 p.m., but also because I saw many of my fellow applicants on the various "Stanford REA Applicants for the Class of 2018" forums I was a member of begin to receive acceptances, deferrals and rejections.

I had already begun to accept defeat, and by the time my mom came back from work, I could not even face opening my email. She coaxed me right along and told me no matter what happens my work ethic has gotten me this far and I would continue to be successful in whichever college I get into if I just continue what I have been doing all of my life. So, I turned on my webcam as I had seen so many other reaction videos and said I could always delete the video if I was not accepted. Slowly but surely, I opened the email from Stanford Admission Office entitled "Your Stanford Admission Decision." Before I could even scroll down to read the whole letter, I read: "CONGRATULATIONS!" I immediately jumped out of my chair and began to hug my mom and my little sister. In no time, the waterworks began. It felt good to know that such an amazing institution actually chose me and 747 others out of almost 7,000 brilliant applicants to be a part of the Stanford family. I was surprised by how much my family, Minds Matter family, mentors, teachers and friends believed in me even when I did not believe in myself. I am grateful to have had such a strong support system and never could have accomplished so much without all the encouragement and guidance I received.

To all those who may not have been accepted to their dream schools or who are still awaiting decisions, my advice is to STAY CALM! Honestly, you have spent your whole life working hard and it will pay off in April. Whether you get into your dream school or not, know that an admissions decision does not determine your worth as a student or where you will end up in life. Eventually, whatever you want to achieve is wholly dependent on yourself and your approach in college. Make sure you continue to be a hardworking student no matter where you go because hard work has already taken you this far and will allow you to continue to get far in life. If you work hard, regardless of which college you choose to go to, you will continue to shine!