67: Waiting and Wondering

67: Waiting and Wondering

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

Waiting and Wondering

You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.

~Walt Disney

Oh, the stress that comes along with applying to college — visiting the schools and deciding where you want to apply, seeking out the applications, and then filling them out. If only you could write one essay for them all. But no—the heartless admissions officers don’t care. They don’t realize all the homework we already get in high school. They aren’t concerned that we have things to do and places to be. I mean, we’re living the life; we’re teenagers! And then, after you finally finish applying to all those schools—signature here, essay there, postmark on the outside... you wait.

After I struggled with writing twelve essays, for twelve different schools, I found the hardest part was waiting. However, it wasn’t the twelve different schools I cared about hearing from, it was the one. Tufts University — the one with the plush green hills, students happily jogging early in the morning, fifteen minutes right outside the city of Boston, only four hours from home. What more could I want? I could see myself studying in the vast and bright libraries, full of walls and walls of books. I could see myself eating in that colossal cafeteria, dining with my new, smart friends from all over the world. Everyday I checked the mail at 3 P.M. waiting, hoping, wishing for my ticket into Tufts. And then it came — or something of the sort.

The envelope I received from Tufts was the size of an envelope my parents usually received for bills. The chances were small they would supply all the information an accepted student craved in such a small envelope. Deep down, I knew it couldn’t be the answer I yearned for, but still holding onto some hope, I opened the envelope slowly.

It began, “We’re sorry to inform you...” I didn’t need to finish reading. But sorry couldn’t stop the hurt, nor could it prevent my tears. I felt like I let my parents down, but more importantly, I let myself down. What would I tell my friends? They’d feel bad for me, or worse yet, think I was dumb. If only I’d done better in high school. I wish I’d studied instead of watching reruns of Full House or going to the movies on Friday night. My life was ruined, I thought.

Eleven more schools to hear from, and all I could do was wait. This time, though still anxious, I was also getting scared. I didn’t get into Tufts — what if I don’t get into any, I thought. Maybe I’ll have to live with my parents or go to community college, when my dream was to live in a city and become my own person.

One by one I heard from the colleges, some rejections, some acceptances. With every acceptance came pleasure and happiness. No, none of them were my first choice. In the end it came down to three — Boston University, New York University, and University of Wisconsin—Madison. My three final schools strayed far from Tufts, the small liberal arts school I originally wanted to attend.

I’d visited Boston and New York and learned the advantages and disadvantages of each, yet I’d never traveled to Madison, since I applied there on a whim. A few weeks after I received the yes from UW — Madison, I packed a suitcase and boarded an airplane with my mom, so I could confirm my rejection of it and choose between two remaining schools. The flight was only about two hours and we arrived in Madison early enough to catch a tour of the campus and an information session.

A little while later, I fell in love. It was an overwhelming sensation, similar to opening presents on your birthday or going to Disney World for the very first time. I was excited because, although this school was the complete opposite from Tufts, in a way it was everything I wanted but never could have dreamed of knowing. Everyone on campus was smiling and willing to answer my questions. I’d never seen so many happy, pleasant people. I sat in on two classes and the professors were fascinating and simply enthralling. The campus had the plush green hill just like Tufts, but better and bigger, and with a huge stone statue of Abraham Lincoln on top. And right off campus was State Street, which included an array of restaurants, which gave off delicious scents. It had the campus life I yearned for, but also the city life perfect for a budding teenager. I had found my niche.

After my weekend in Madison, I went home with a smile on my face. Though it was far away from my home, and though it wasn’t somewhere I initially thought I’d ever see myself, it ended up being perfect for me.

I am now a junior in the University of Wisconsin — Madison. The students here show their spirit at football games, their intelligence in the lecture halls, and their festivity at parties — and I couldn’t be happier or more at home.

~Courtney Starr Sohn

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