58: From Waiting List to Wonderful

58: From Waiting List to Wonderful

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

From Waiting List to Wonderful

We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

~Joseph Campbell

One week in March, all of the letters arrived.

Of the ten schools I applied to, one rejected me, four accepted me, and five of them put me on the infamous waiting list, otherwise known as college purgatory.

Surprisingly, I had a much easier time being rejected by my top school than being considered a “maybe” by half of the schools on my list. How was I good, but not good enough? That terrible week, I berated myself with questions and possibilities.

What would have made me that much better? An award-winning essay? An SAT score above 1500? A 4.0 GPA instead of 3.95? Five perfect SAT II scores instead of two? AP scores of all 5? I was such a dedicated student ever since I learned to read and write, with great grades and test scores. Great, but not perfect.

What would have made me that much more well-rounded? Six days of ballet a week instead of five? Playing a varsity sport as well as dancing? Two volunteer activities a year instead of one? Ten extracurricular activities instead of five? I had always been involved at my school and at my dance academy, and I was a volunteer EMT for two years. I barely had time for homework and college applications as it was.

What would have made me unique? Playing the tuba? Speaking Urdu? Being an Olympic gold medalist? Interning for the Governor? I spoke fluent Spanish, had studied abroad, and had a competitive internship in New York City. Apparently, that didn’t help me stand out.

Eventually, I came to terms with the fact that despite being perfectly qualified for the Ivy League, I had just not made the cut. There was nothing I could have done, since the system doesn’t work in favor of the applicants, but rather to benefit the needs of the school.

I also learned to look beyond the name and history of the school to decide if it was right for me. I chose a competitive school in Washington, D.C., and it was the best experience of my life. I don’t think any other school could have given me the same advantages, and I can’t imagine having gone anywhere else.

During my four years of college, I met my best friends. I became an expert on Latin America. I explored the city, and took advantage of lots of the great events, conferences, and celebrity appearances around campus. I explored subjects I never would have otherwise considered, such as Urban Sociology and Creative Writing. I co-founded a ballet company, which has now become an important student institution at my school. I studied abroad, and traveled the world. I graduated with a double major, in the top two percent of my class.

Now, a year after my college graduation, I think back on that terrible week in March and smile. I wish I had known I wasn’t in purgatory, but in fact right outside the Heavenly Gates of college paradise.

~Rachel Glickhouse

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