College process 101: two seniors reflect

Emma Brezel and Elana Galassi, Staff Writer and Contributing Writer

For most, May 1 will just be another day.  But for seniors, it’s the day we have to send in deposits for college.  Basically, it’s commitment day.

All the days spent memorizing useless SAT words and whining to our friends about how much our college essays suck will all culminate in this single day.

It has definitely been the most physically and emotionally exhausting experience of my life, but in less than a week it will all be over and I can finally take a deep breath.

No one can sugar coat the admissions process.  Being rejected by a group of complete strangers because your life’s accomplishments aren’t impressive enough is a real blow to your ego.  I got rejected or waitlisted from almost all of my schools so I am in no way an expert on college admissions.

So here is some advice for all of you future college applicants from someone who knows what you will be going through.

This is probably the most important thing I learned about applying to college.  Now, it seems really obvious and I wish someone had told me this a year ago because it would have made rejection a little easier: there is no logic behind college admissions.

There is no guarantee you will be accepted just because your SAT score and your GPA are within the school’s range.

There are people who get into an Ivy, but then get rejected from their safeties and vice-versa.  There are just so many variables that you cannot control.

Maybe the valedictorian decided to apply to your top choice last minute or maybe your recommendation got lost in the mail or the admissions reader could just  have been having a bad day and wasn’t feeling very generous.

Most of the time admissions decisions don’t make sense and you just have to accept it.

The best advice I can give you is to make the best application you can and then forget about it because the rest is out of your hands.

You will go crazy trying to figure out why the boy in your class who is on the brink of failing got into your top choice and you didn’t.

Focus on making yourself the best applicant and don’t worry about things you can’t control.

Secondly, apply to eight first choices.  I don’t think I have ever been more upset than when I got deferred from my ED choice.

I had made a huge emotional investment into that school and when I realized I didn’t get in, I was terrified because I couldn’t see myself anywhere else.

Find eight schools that you love and research them all equally.  If you do that you are almost guaranteed to get in somewhere that you love.

Have an open mind and investigate the schools you get into and go beyond just taking a tour.  Try and schedule to stay overnight or join the Facebook group so you can get a feel for the kids who are coming.

The school I will be attending this fall wasn’t one of my top choices.  However, once I investigated more and stayed overnight with the tennis team I realized it was exactly what I was looking for and I can’t imagine going anywhere else.

For some people, applying early decision to a school works out and life is great.  But, for a majority of people, it doesn’t.  Just know that you are not alone and there are plenty of great schools out there.  They might just take a little longer to find.

Lastly, when you are writing all your essays and doing all the busy work don’t lose sight of the big picture.

Yes, college is important and it is important to show admissions directors how great you are, but it is only four years of your life.  Whatever path you chose, life will go on.

What really matters during those four years is not whether your school only accepts a perfect SAT score or if your school has a 2% acceptance rate, but the people you meet and how you take advantages of the opportunities available.


~Emma Brezel





Now that the college process has concluded for the Class of 2013, I suppose it’s time to reflect on the hair-pulling, tear-shedding, and sleepless nights of the last few months as we attempted to get into the colleges of our choice and struggled to cope with being accepted, waitlisted, and worst of all, flat out rejected.

As we prepare to mount the stage and become responsible young adults, I’d like to share some newfound wisdom on the college process with the next round of souls to be pushed to the very edge of their sanity.

I just want to start by saying that this whole process feels like the road to nowhere.

It ends up being a competition to see who can seem special enough to be let into these schools that pride themselves on being the most selective.  It is downright dehumanizing to feel like something about you didn’t make the cut.  So don’t let the masses get you down.

Play the hand you’re dealt the best you can, and soldier on.

You’re the only one who decides how much you’re worth.

My story is probably the same as many others’: I thought I was the best thing since sliced bread.

Although my GPA was lower than the norm for some of the schools I was hoping to attend, I thought that my extracurriculars, phenomenally “different” essay, and high ACT score could make up for my slightly lacking GPA.

While the road to eventual acceptance was paved with a lot of bad news, I could not be happier where I ended up.

A word on the Ivy League: success isn’t measured in where you go, but rather what you do with what you’re given.

The Elite Eight are not the end all for a successful life.

I’ve seen Ivy graduates still living on their mothers’ couches, and community college students who make six or seven figure salaries.  No college is ever a guarantee into a field; it takes hard work to get to the top.

Whenever someone asked me how getting rejected felt, I described it as getting engaged, being halfway down the aisle, having them give you the once over, and them telling you to turn around and go home.  You feel like garbage.

But remember that you are an amazing, valuable person.

And there will be a school that sees something very special in you.

Where you want to go and where you end up may be two different places, but everyone I have spoken to (including adults) has said that where they went is hands down where they were meant to be.

When I got into the school I’ll be attending in the fall, (GO RAIDERS!) my dad hid the envelope, made sure I was positive about my decision to attend if accepted, and then pulled the envelope out of the couch cushions.

Several minutes of screaming and tears later, I went on a late night coffee run.  And let me tell you, if anything can taste like victory, that coffee did.

I’m going to be about as blunt as any eighteen year-old: don’t bother trying to apply logic to college.  Almost everyone who applies and is rejected from a school is very qualified, and no amount of reasoning or rationalization can make this feel any better..

Either there wasn’t enough room in the class, or you overreached yourself a little, like I did.

And that’s okay.  You will probably get rejected somewhere.  It will hurt.  You might cry a lot.

From one veteran of the process to the new crop of kids, just some last-minute advice:

1. Don’t let this process mutilate you.

2. Don’t try and fit some unreasonable mold.

3. There is no way of knowing whether you’re getting in or not.

So do yourself a favor, and take the best darn shot you can.

Because, hey, you really never know.


~Elana Galassi