Student VoicesBack to student voices archive April 10, 2013
Getting Rejected From Your Dream College Isn’t the End of the World
Tasha is a senior at Shenandoah High School in Shenandoah, Iowa. She is planning to attend Iowa State University and major in psychology.
An editorial in the Wall Street Journal by high school senior Suzy Lee Weiss entitled “To (All) the Colleges That Rejected Me” accuses colleges of lying to her about the qualifications they looked for in an applicant, and names the reasons she thought she was rejected.
The editorial has become controversial for its criticism of diversity initiatives and its argument that even students who don’t work that hard are entitled to a place at a top tier school. Since then, several major publications, such as Forbes, have reacted to the piece.
After reading the editorial, high school seniors Bethany and Tasha responded with messages of their own.
To Suzy Lee Weiss and those rejected by so many colleges:
As the oldest of four children, I constantly hear how I am supposed to be setting a good example for my younger siblings; get good grades, get accepted into a good college, but most of all make sure I am happy and comfortable with the decisions I make. I have the responsibility to show my youngest brother that being a teenager is not all play, but to still take time to enjoy the moments.
Not all teenagers who are bitter about their lack of acceptance letters to those prestigious colleges are underachievers, nor do they make excuses for themselves when they do not achieve their goals.
As for an internship or something impressive to put on your resume, don’t fret Suzy, you wrote a letter that was published in the Wall Street Journal!
Most of us high school seniors set too high of a standard for ourselves, and some parents expect a bit too much out of us as well. We all don’t handle stress the same way; some of us eat under stress, while others find relief in sleeping for hours.
Going to college shouldn’t feel like your only option. There are plenty of decent occupations that do not require a four-year degree from Harvard or any other Ivy League school. Who needs big Ivy League colleges anyway? And who even needs a state university to start everything off? You don’t always have to have so many extracurriculars, leadership positions, high SAT scores or be good at any varsity sport. You could always do what my mother did and start off at a small community college then work your way back up to at least the middle of the totem pole. There are so many other things that you could do that could make you just as much money and have just as much fun.
There are plenty of opportunities out there that are yet to be discovered. College isn’t the only option, and it isn’t always the best option either. You have to find the environment that best suits you, no matter how far out it may seem.
So, my fellow students, do not fret over the fact that you did not get accepted into what you think is the “right college,” you may end up taking a completely different and better path without it.
Getting into college is difficult. As seniors in high school we start off the year with pure anticipation. We have dreams of prom dresses and diplomas dancing around in our heads, but we quickly realize senior year isn’t just around for us to find a date or plan our parties.
Senior year is full of test scores and essays. It is months of nerve-wracking deadlines and life changing decisions. It doesn’t take long for students to realize that this is the most important year of our lives to date. We spend weeks filling out application after application to our dreams schools and then to our backups. Once we’ve applied to all of our choices we fill out many more applications to scholarships so we can pay for our fast approaching future. We do all of this while attending classes and trying to enjoy our last year of high school.
All of these things are true and constant for seniors, but they are also the things we have prepared our whole lives for. We know what is expected of us and I don’t believe we have any right to be surprised.
Good grades are not all you need to get into college, there are many things that go along with grades and test scores. Getting into college is difficult and that is why there are so many tried and true rules about applying and getting accepted. The most important is back up schools. There is no limit on how many schools you can apply to, except the limit you put on yourself. Apply to your dream schools, apply to any schools you would like to go to, and then apply to a few you know you will get into. This gives you options, and options are a wonderful thing when you are planning an entire future in such a small window of time. Anyone who doesn’t take the time to apply to backups is just setting themselves up for failure.
Another thing everyone should know about applying to college is that the only bad community service is no community service. You can walk a block in almost any town or city and find something or someone that needs your help. I live in a very small town that is surrounded by more very small towns and I still managed to log around fifty hours of community service. I did not have to start an amazing charity or spend a summer in Africa. I also did not have to spend all of my free time logging these hours. I still had time to work a part time job, attend school, and enjoy my extracurriculars. Community service isn’t difficult to do but it is an absolute must on college applications.
Extracurriculars are another very important thing to include on an application. Colleges don’t expect you to be the top athlete on a team or the very best debater, because not everyone can be that. Colleges just want to know you are involved. They want to know what interests you, and most of all they want to know you. They want to know they are letting a positive and active individual into their school, not just another bitter clone. Colleges want diversity, and that doesn’t just mean you have to be at least a 16th Cherokee to get in, it only means that you have to be you to get in.
Making yourself look good on paper can be difficult, I know I definitely don’t get the best grades or the most awards. I am just the best me I can be and I made sure to take the time and put in the effort to show that in each application I filled out.
I was nothing more than myself and I was accepted into each college I applied to, as that person. So to all of the colleges that accepted me I say, thank you for seeing me in between those small black lines and thank you for accepting me as I come, with or without a tiger mom.
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