An Open Letter to Students Waiting for their College Admissions Decisions
January 23, 2020
You’ve arrived to decision making time. You’ve taken your tours, written your essays, and planned a thousand futures in your head while awaiting the news.
You’ve arrived to decision making time. You’ve taken your tours, written your essays, and planned a thousand futures in your head while awaiting the news. You’re standing at a crossroads, and I’m sure you’re feeling nervous about the outcome. The emotions attached to all the possibilities are powerful and consuming. I get it. Going to college is a big deal. The next four years will shape you and your outlook on life. So will the location in which those four years will take place. Whatever the end of the decision process looks like, rest in this: you’ll grow. If you get accepted to your dream school - amazing. If you don’t, you will still grow in ways you didn’t know you could.
I remember the pressure of my college admission decisions process. For me, it was a bit delayed. I was homeschooled for high school and made an easy transition into a community college, as it was the best and most affordable choice for me. About two years into my time at community college, I began looking at universities in Massachusetts. After touring Brandeis University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass Amherst), my heart was quickly and undeniably set on Brandeis. I loved the campus, the work ethic, and the rhythm the semester schedules seemed to have.
UMass Amherst felt like a cushion. A bit of an uncomfortable cushion, but a cushion nonetheless. The campus felt overwhelmingly big, and the Journalism department - to which I’d be applying - seemed daunting, and everything felt impersonal. I liked the idea of the Journalism major at UMass Amherst but didn’t take enough time to weigh it out due to the impression Brandeis left me with. Nothing could compare.
As I waited to hear from Brandeis on their decision, I began imagining what it’d look like to walk through its halls. One fateful day, I received that email from Brandeis telling me that they couldn’t accept me. I was crushed. The future I had built for myself in my head came crumbling down, and all I could feel was distress. I wondered if my essay was lacking or if I wasn’t smart enough. I went down the checklist but could find nothing I did wrong.
Eventually, I moved on from those days of disappointment. With my acceptance to UMass Amherst, I began to get excited about my new life in an entirely different college setting. I arrived on campus with bright eyes, focused on getting myself started down my career path. About two years have passed, and I can’t say Brandeis has often been on my mind. A recent encounter really brought my dysfunctional dance with Brandeis to an end.
A few weeks ago, I met a girl in the UMass Amherst Campus Center and began talking to her about the typical college student things. What’s your major? What’s your year? All that jazz. She’d told me she just transferred from Brandeis, and I, in turn, told her I’d wanted to study there. What she said next closed a circle that has left me feeling peaceful ever since. She told me about Brandeis’s lack of a Journalism major. Since you can only minor in the program, there are other requirements you have to meet that would take precedence over Journalism. At UMass Amherst, with Journalism being a major, there’s so much more focus one can put on becoming a successful journalist.
Of course, I was aware that Brandeis didn’t have a Journalism major. But, as I was blinded by how much I idealized the school, I couldn’t see what I’d be missing out on had I gone down that road. In that moment, I’d felt a confirmation to the security that I felt at UMass Amherst. The people I’ve met, the experiences I’ve had, all of them made sense when the former Brandeis student told me this.
Dear future college student, all of this is to say - whatever happens, trust the process. You might get accepted and you might not. No matter the outcome, look out for the little signs of growth or expansion in you that wouldn’t have happened in any other place. If you do, I can promise you that you’ll find that the college you end up in was your dream school all along.