04/14/2014 10:50 am ET Updated Jun 14, 2014

Why Seniors Need to Stop Asking 'What If?'

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.

March: The month of acceptances and rejections. Well, we all know what being told "no" feels like. You may have also thrown a tantrum from time to time because of it, but it feels much worse when that "no" comes from a college. What's there to say? You finally get an email or letter from the college and have your hopes up but once you notice that the first word isn't "Congratulations," that's when you know what that letter really is all about. Yup, it's the dreaded rejection. Some people get over it quickly, others will need time.

I believe it is the second worst thing about the application process, because a rejection can make you doubt yourself, your future and brings about the "what ifs." What if I did better on the SATs? What if I took on more APs? What if I did more extracurricular activities? What if I...

But at the end of the day, you're still left with a rejection letter. So, my advice is that you merely don't even start with what ifs, don't start doubting yourself and keep believing in yourself. Everything will turn out fine. Don't get me wrong, it does hurt and it might make you sad, but don't dwell on it so much or you might miss out on the other good things such as when you do get an acceptance letter -- that golden ticket. Take it from me, who has been rejected by a good chunk of colleges.

It's times like these that I love spending hours drawing and getting my mind off of it. So do something you like and enjoy the two or three months left of high school. I've learned the hard way that there should be a balance between the different areas of your life. Stay hopeful and optimistic. That's the best advice anyone can give. If you didn't get accepted to your dream school, life has a different path for you.

A while back, I read an essay (which really happened) of a girl who hung up on her wall her last place ribbon for a swimming competition that she had originally thought she won. She even raised her hands high during the event but then noticed she came in last. I wondered why in the world she hung up that ribbon. Then a couple of months ago, I read another story of a student who hung up his rejection letter. And again, I wondered why. Didn't either of them feel embarrassed about it? But here I am, finding myself copying them (just as soon as I can print it out). On my wall, among my most precious achievements will be the rejection letter from my dream school, Duke. Every day, I will see it and every day I will look at it with pride and determination.

Senior year means getting to learn about yourself much more than you can ever imagine, such as if you work great under pressure, if you're a heavy sleeper (might learn that during class) or if you're OK with "no." Be strong, keep your head up and don't worry about everything. Take it one step at a time.