36: The Only Person in the World

36: The Only Person in the World

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

The Only Person in the World

Labels are for filing.
Labels are for clothing.
Labels are not for people.

~Martina Navratilova

I think I might be the only person in the world who was happy to get a rejection letter from one of the most prestigious universities in the country.

I, Alexandra Swanson, was just regretfully informed that I was not accepted at this time to Tufts University in a letter hastily delivered to me by my anxious mother when it arrived at 9 A.M. on a Saturday morning. I was asleep before I got the letter, and I went right back to sleep after I read it, a content smile on my face.

You might be reading this and wondering why I even applied in the first place. I did want to apply, for those of you thinking that it was merely my parents pressuring me to do so. I toured the university; I liked what I saw; I applied.

The school was absolutely fantastic, of course: a lush, green campus in the middle of Medford (a town, incidentally, in which I actually lived temporarily). The foreign language and English programs were excellent. And, of course, there was the reputation which could not be denied by anyone.

Now, I was always the “smart one” of the family: the daughter who wanted to be the first female president, the cousin with the best grades, the niece who awed everyone with her ability to read at the young age of two. It seemed only natural that I would attend an Ivy League school and go on to be wonderfully successful.

Well, time went on, and procrastination became my deadliest enemy. No longer were my grades perfect, and Harvard became an unattainable goal.

But Tufts? I felt I had a shot there.

Actually, half the reason I applied was to fulfill that role as the “smart one.” I felt that I had to prove something to myself, because in a way, I had let myself down by slacking and not receiving all As (at least, that was how I felt about it).

I had, of course, found my strengths, which did not lie in the field of math and science (and I’m sure any university to which I applied could tell you that). I had an absolute and undeniable passion for writing.

In school, my role changed from the “smart one” to the “writer,” and the essay was my favorite part of the application. Tufts also required its applicants to answer a few different questions in 500 words or less. I was particularly proud of one I wrote when asked to describe myself:

Those of you who know me would know that I carry around a gigantic bag all the time full of anything one might possibly need (and quite a few things that no one but me would ever need). So the answer to my question was written about each of the things found inside my bag and the part of my personality attributed to each.

So Tufts was my favorite application — I know: how many people pick a favorite college application? — but as it turned out, it wasn’t my favorite school.

Ever since deciding to go college hunting on a whim with my best friend, I had discovered and fallen in love with Northeastern University.

Yes, it was a little weaker in its Foreign Language Department than I would have liked, but the concepts of being right in Boston and having the co-op experience were too good to pass up. Not to mention that my grades were good enough to easily make the Honors Program, and the Honors students had pretty amazing dorms.

Even though Northeastern wasn’t even on my original list of colleges to look at, I was completely hooked. I toured it a total of three times, each time becoming more and more convinced that this was where I not only wanted to be but where I was meant to be. Something just felt right about it: a feeling that I really can’t put into words, though the writer in me is striving to try.

Northeastern’s letter was the first acceptance I got as well as the first reply from any school at all.

When I got that e-mail informing me of my acceptance to the university as well as the Honors Program, plus a Dean’s Scholarship, I was so ecstatic that I literally screamed.

Before I received any other letter, I sat my parents down and said quite calmly, “I’m going to Northeastern.”

Both of them were startled but gave me the typical reactions, my mother saying, “But what about Tufts? If you get in there, you should go: you’ll get a much better education, and employers will be more likely to hire you.”

My dad’s reaction: “I don’t think this should be just your decision. We should sit down and talk about it together.”

Most other people I talked to agreed with my mother, and I was completely ignoring my father’s input, not wanting him to be responsible for the decision about where I get my education.

I was becoming resigned to the fact that if I got into Tufts, Northeastern would be a distant dream, especially since I could get better financial aid for Tufts.

I tried to reassure myself, repeatedly reminding myself of the fact that Tufts was by no means a bad school, and I would learn a lot there, but I was still praying for the slim chance that I would be able to attend Northeastern.

So when I received that rejection letter, I was happy. Maybe I was the only person in the world who was happy about a rejection from Tufts, but I was.

I have now completed my first wonderful year at the school of my dreams. Seven amazing professors, two awesome roommates and twelve months later, I am only upset about one thing: Why didn’t Tufts like my writing?

~Alexandra Swanson

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