Next Steps for Your Quest

jessicali_3It’s been a week since you clicked the ‘status update’ button at noon (or whatever time according to your zone). The initial tide of exhilaration or disappointment has probably dampened, and once again you’re staring at your computer, digging up a thousand memories for some inspirational seeds as you plow through the Common App. Yet you can’t help but ponder the implications of becoming or not becoming a finalist.

Some of you may have felt as if swept away by ruthless avalanche last Tuesday after eyeing the grey words ‘we regret to inform you…’ What were all those late-late nights delved into textbooks, enduring caffeine overdose for? Is this the end of a long, rough road? Why not me? No one blames you if you’re flooded with fury and frustration for the moment. Not being named a Fiinalist, before you even venture into tunnel of college applications, can be quite a scary thought.

However, it’s a wise decision to free yourself from grief now (seriously, now) if you haven’t already. Such a multifaceted set of variables—academic record, geographic diversity, financial status, etc.—was factored into the equation that it’s rarely your merits which came short. Oftentimes, it’s just the erratic hand of luck that didn’t point to you. In no way should you let one result extinguish your brilliance, potential, or uniqueness (likewise, even if you were selected as a finalist, don’t let your confidence soar). As Ruth Babe’s familiar saying goes, ‘never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.’ Keep up the fighting spirit, and there will be many doors wide-open for you down the lane. Personally I have a handful of friends (at Princeton too) who are non-finalists and were still admitted by multiple top-tier schools that offered generous scholarships. It goes without saying that hunting for other opportunities must be on your to-do-list. Remember, regardless of whether you’re a Finalist, the entire Quest community is here to support you! We know the tripping obstacles you had to cross, and our mission is to bridge you through a plethora of gateways to your well-deserved dream school.

And now to the Finalists, you’ve probably heard this many times, but CONGRATULATIONS! Your grit and character have earned you this recognition, and you should throw a celebration for yourself! However, as I’ve alluded to before, it’s pivotal to recollect yourself quickly and transition to the common apps. The timeframe between Finalist announcements and match material submission isn’t very long, so squandering time would be a bad idea! Here are my three cents:

  • Don’t over-rank. Many of you are bombarded by school tests the end of October. If you don’t think you can devote as time as you’d like to a supplement, better wait until regular decision than rush it now. Remember, you are not penalized in any way by applying later. Trust me, it will be sheer agony to discover a conspicuous grammar mistake on your application after you’ve clicked the submit button.
  • Simplicity is king. As you tackle school-specific prompts, you may come across the infamous ‘why x university’ question on multiple occasions. You may be tempted to write a ten page research paper about your dream college that’d even baffle the tour guides there, but keeping your responses focused and succinct is the card to play.
  • Stay positive. The days are shortening. The air is chilling. Tests are marching in. Deadlines are creeping near. But don’t worry! We’ve walked through this and so will you!    

No matter Finalist or not, we’re all rooting for you!

Jessica Li, Quest Scholar, Princeton ’18