On Getting Rejected by 8 Colleges and Still Ending Up Happy
A year ago, I was sitting in my AP English class, my last class on Thursdays, after a long day of college acceptances, denials, and waitlists. The last one I was waiting on was a school called Johns Hopkins University, which I had disregarded because it was in Baltimore, a city I had heard terrible things about (in hindsight, I shouldn’t have based my opinion of a city on a TV show, but I digress.) I got rejection after rejection, waitlist after waitlist, and the occasional acceptance.
I’m not going to lie and say that Hopkins was first on my list, or even second, or even fifth. It was a school I had disregarded because my mother had, for twelve years, trained me to believe that I wanted to be part of a league named after a vine plant without realizing what that actually meant. I applied because I had gone to a summer program run by Hopkins that had changed my life. I didn’t want to go to school in Baltimore, because my cousin had gone to MICA, and told me all sorts of awful things about the school and about how terrible it was.
I found out about the last college rejection at the end of AP English, and it was too much. I burst into tears when my tea-equipped, snarky, not-prepared-for-a-teenage-girl-to-burst-into-tears teacher, after class, asked me offhandedly how the college process was going for me.
A couple hours later, I got the e-mail from Johns Hopkins. Congratulations in the subject, no “We regret to inform you” in the first paragraph.
In the end, my choice came down to two schools, UC Berkeley, and Johns Hopkins; a university with a great Chemistry program that was an hour and a half from home in a city that I loved, with people that I loved, or a university with a great engineering program that was across the country in a city about which I knew nothing.
I tried talking to my advisers, my parents, my friends, and my teachers. I visited Cal and stayed with one of my best friends, Abby, who I would have loved to gone to school with. I talked to people in the chem department, the engineering department, and members of an a cappella group. I visited Hopkins during SOHOP, and it was rainy and dreary, and I knew nobody. I talked to professors who talked about things that I didn’t understand, talked to current and admitted students, and members of an a cappella group.
And I did this begrudgingly, frankly, because I was still banking on getting off of waitlists at schools I was SURE I wanted to attend. I sent letters of recommendation, updated resumes, letters about why I wanted to attend to those schools, and put off my decision as long as I could.
I realized I’d have to make some sort of decision, so I tried the cheesy “flip a coin” trick. It landed on Cal, my heart sank and my stomach turned, and with a shaky smile, I told my friend “I guess I’m going to Cal?”
That night, after dinner, I accepted my admittance to Hopkins.
And here I am.
It’s difficult, to say the least.I joke about hanging out in the library, but I’m pretty sure I spend upwards of four hours here a night, and have fears of losing friends once I stop being in classes with them. I’m a member of an a cappella group, which sucks up time I didn’t think I would miss. After a spur of the moment decision to rush, and going through the rush process, I joined a sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and that takes up more time. I feel like I’m constantly working to make up for work I didn’t get done before, and weekends are spent, for the most part, sleeping and making up for the late nights during the week.
Kappa may take up time, but I’ve made invaluable bonds with girls I wouldn’t have met otherwise, and my big, bigbig, bigbigbigs, and so on are people I will be in contact with for the rest of my life. I have met people whose intelligence surpasses mine to such a degree that I am past jealousy and straight to admiration. I’m taking my first Chemical Engineering class this semester, and it’s genuinely interesting, even if it’s hard. The Mental Notes, my a cappella group, is my family, and I’ve made so many friends in other groups because of my involvement with singing. I may hang out in the library a lot to study, but I’ve also made friends because of the time I’ve spent studying on M level.
And you know what? Even though Ivy Day, aka the day I got rejected from4 schools in a row, felt like the end of the world, I don’t even remember all the colleges I applied to. I was one of those people who swore that nobody understood, and it was the end of the world, and I wouldn’t be happy at any other schools. I was sure that if I wasn’t a student at A college, or B university, I was going to be miserable. Here I am at Johns Hopkins University, loving it. I like it so much that I’m even a member of the Student Admissions Advisory Board- basically, it’s my job to tell people why they should come to my school.
So take it from me folks- It’s gonna be okay. no matter what happens. If you get into your dream school? Congrats. If you don’t? You’ll be happy at your eventual school I promise.
Want to hear more about Jackie’s experience at JHU? Check out her blog on her first year experience.
All images courtesy of Jackie Choi