My Story


I think pretty much all the college decisions are released by now. I’m sure many of you guys had your dream come true so far, with acceptances and even financial aid awards, and equally many of you had your heart shattered by the cruel rejection letters. I’m also sure that other people are telling you that things will get better, and that one day you’ll look past it. I am here to post about this too, except mine will be somewhat more personal.

I was a QuestBridge finalist last year and I applied to 11 schools. I went through an insane amount of paperwork and endured almost unbearable stress in less than one year, but I was sure that the whole process was worth it. Like all of yours, my stats were not perfect, but I’d say they were above average. Overall, I thought I had a good shot.

You know that nightmare that you have in Senior year where you have nowhere to go to after high school graduation, when all your friends go off happily ever after to their dream schools? That was me last year. By April, I was rejected by seven, waitlisted by three, and accepted by one school that asked me to pay 11,000 a year after scholarships. On the last day of March, I received five rejections in a row. I wish it were an early April Fool’s Day prank, but it wasn’t. I had nowhere to go.

The next day I went to my high school counselor and together we called all three schools that waitlisted me to ask for ways to improve my application file and the school that accepted me to ask for more grant money. In the end, I decided to pursue two of the waitlists. Meanwhile, I also made plans with my counselor that included me getting a part-time job next year and finishing community college in a year, and then reapply for a 4-year university for my Bachelor’s. My counselor asked me if I was okay in the end and I didn’t say anything. I didn’t cry.

For the next week I drew a poster, wrote two love letters and sent in two more writing samples to the schools that waitlisted me. I then rejected, with shaking hands, the one school that accepted me–the only “option” I had. I knew that I did everything I could and that there was nothing more I can do. Then I took two days off from school. I bawled my eyes out and pretty much did nothing except watch YouTube and eat ice cream. I deactivated Facebook because seeing all the happy statuses about getting into schools and bittersweet statuses about choosing between schools just made me sick and depressed.

Now, long story short. A month later everybody sent in their decisions to their fall destinations and I was still waiting for a chance to make mine. I was jealous, I was envious, and even more I was anxious. And yet I knew, at the same time, that I had a plan no matter what happened that summer. Then my lucky streak came. I was called off of the U.Va. waitlist and given a near full-ride. A day after my birthday, I received a letter and a congratulatory call from a couple of scholarships, which gave me enough money cover the remaining costs.

Where am I now? I’m typing this post sitting inside a college dorm in the midst of midterms, which now seems strangely more important than the whole getting into college thing I was dealing with last year. I’m doing fine, even better than I did in high school, both academically and emotionally. Actually, I’m more than fine. I’m happy.

And I know that you will be too, no matter what you’ve gotten today. Some of you may not believe me now, but I hope you’ll reread this sometime later and regain some faith from this. But first, DON’T BE AFRAID TO TAKE AND ASK FOR HELP. A QuestBridge friend told me about one of the scholarships that later came through. My counselor made all the calls to colleges the day after I was waitlisted. My mother loved me regardless of whether I was an acceptee or a rejectee. Getting help is a sign of strength, not weakness, and it’s one of the first steps you should take when dealing with any type of disappointment or letdown.

If you got waitlisted by a school you REALLY want to go to, do research on the schools you got accepted to first, and then fight that waitlist. Ask your counselor to call the admissions office and ask if you can do anything to improve your chances. If you got rejected and have nowhere to go, start preparing for transfer admissions and know that this is only a small portion of what your life journey is going to be. If you got accepted and know where you’re going to go, congratulations, and go have the best time of your life before college hits.

Thank you for reading through such a long post, even if you just simply skimmed it. Know that the QuestBridge will always be here for support, no matter what. My story certainly doesn’t apply to everyone here, but I hope that by reading about me you’ll at least know one concrete example of someone who survived a heavy blow dealt by college admissions and has become a stronger person from it. And if you’ve read this far, leave the computer now and go spend sometime with your family or friends, whether to celebrate or to sulk. It’s been a long journey and you all need a break. You deserve it. GREAT JOB, ALL OF YOU.