2: The Waiting Is the Hardest Part

2: The Waiting Is the Hardest Part

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Getting In...To College

The Waiting Is the Hardest Part

Purpose serves as a principle around which to organize our lives.

~Unknown Author

I’ve been waiting since the fifth grade. At the age of ten, I decided that Yale was the college for me, and anyone who disagreed wasn’t even worth talking to. When someone asked me what I was going to do when I grew up, I would smile and reply that I was going to Yale. “Oh!” they’d exclaim, “That’s a very good school. What do you want to study?” That question always stumped me. “I don’t know,” I would reply, “But I’m going to Yale anyway.”

I don’t have a clue what sparked my infatuation with the college; maybe I overheard the name, or perhaps I read about it somewhere. But once I started learning more about the school, my enthusiasm continued to grow until just the utterance of that beautiful word could make my heart beat faster. Eventually though, just like all good relationships, my bond with Yale became more than just a love-at-first-sight sort of thing.

During middle school, my best friend developed similar feelings about Harvard, and we became, essentially, Ivy League groupies. We talked for hours on end, about GPAs and double majors and roommates. As we researched further and learned even more about our dream schools, I began to realize that somehow, as a naïve little ten-year-old, I had gotten it right. Yale truly was my dream school, and it still is today.

I’ve spent seven years daydreaming about Yale; picturing the moment when my acceptance letter comes, imagining myself walking to my first ever class, meeting the perfect Yale Man, graduating, getting married, having a perfect life, et cetera, et cetera. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming, right? Now, as a junior in high school, I’m slightly more knowledgeable than I was back in elementary school, and I realize that my chances of getting into Yale are even narrower than my worldview was back in fifth grade.

That doesn’t really mean anything to me, believe it or not. I’ve grown up a lot since the time when I first fell in love with Yale, and since then, I’ve realized that there are many other amazing colleges out there, and quite a few that could be (almost) as dreamy as Yale. I know that I’m going to major in journalism, and that I want to travel to the East Coast. And surprisingly enough, there are schools besides Yale that fit perfectly into those criteria.

No matter where I go to college, I owe Yale a lot. My dream of going there has driven me to work a lot harder than I ever would have normally. I know that colleges want people who are good at everything; or at least people who strive to be. So I’ve tried things, like swim team and water polo, that normally I wouldn’t have done, and the experiences have been fantastic. I push myself academically, in the hopes of impressing the admissions board at Yale; enrolling in the toughest honors program there is, and taking extra classes beyond that. If I didn’t have my goal of making it into Yale, I would never push myself so hard, because there would be no need. It’s come as a surprise, but all the hard work has been fun, in an exhaustingly gratifying sort of way. I’ve spent all this time waiting for my chance at Yale, but my dreams don’t allow me to just sit around and twiddle my thumbs.

I care a lot more about my grades than I ever could have imagined. I’ll never forget my first A minus. The year was 2006; the class Honors Chemistry, and I felt like a complete and total failure at life. I’ll never forget the surge of disappointment that coursed through me as I stared down at my first semester report card; it was as if someone had dumped a bucket of freezing cold water over my head and left me standing there, spluttering and gasping for air. To say I was devastated would be an understatement; to suggest I was overreacting would be completely true.

Even though that moment occurred less than two years ago, I can already look back at it and smile wryly, and shake my head at how high-strung I was. After I failed so horrifically in that first semester of Chemistry, I made certain such a catastrophe would never happen again. So I studied for hours on end before each test and quiz; I convinced my teacher to create extra credit opportunities, and I panicked whenever I made an error. Stressful? Obviously. Over the top? Of course. Kind of ridiculous? Perhaps. But I was successful; I got all As that next semester and I figured it had all been worth it.

Now though, I look back and I’m not so sure. I know that it’s important to care about grades, and there’s no doubt that it’s great to get all As. But Yale wants students with amazingly interesting and busy lives, and because that’s what they want, while waiting for my chance to take my shot at Yale, I’ve made my life more interesting and busier than I ever thought possible,

Applying for college is all about waiting, but not just the wait for an acceptance letter. It’s also about the maddeningly long wait for a chance to even apply. I’ve been waiting for years to write my application to Yale, and my chance is coming soon. As I near the end of this wait, I’ve come to see that no matter how horribly long and seemingly unbearable waiting is, it can change lives for the better. The same goes for college. Even if the college of my dreams denies me, I’ll have an amazing experience at whatever college I go to, and I believe that this can be true for all my college-bound peers out there. It all depends on what you do — with your wait, and with your life.

~Tress Klassen

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