Dear Catherine, Do you have any advice for the waiting-for-decision-to-come-out agony? ahhh I can’t stop thinking about what’s going to happen and whether or not I’ll get into my dream school or any school for that matter and I don’t know how to stop myself from obsessing over this.
Dear high school senior readers on the verge of an angsty explosion as you await the response of your “dream school”,
Hi. 🙂 How ya doin’? Are you breathing? Please breathe.
First of all, CONGRATULATIONS ON APPLYING TO COLLEGE! You’ve taken the first step towards furthering your education beyond what is mandated of you (by the state, at least. Hi, Mom.) That is something to be proud of. Go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back. #LearningIsCool
As a current Stanford sophomore, I remember quite well the college-decision-waiting-game. It’s amazing for me to think that it was only two years ago that I was standing in your very metaphorical shoes. (And by amazing I mean scary as fuq. Like where does the time goOoOoo!???) I’d like to offer you, Dear Reader, some words of support that I believe you’ll find helpful as you prepare to receive your acceptance (I’m sure) and rejection (I’m sorry) letters.
Let’s start here:
Dream schools are a buncha baloney.
Hear me out.
For some reason, everyone expects you to have a dream school. Holla if you couldn’t begin to count how many times your teachers and peers have asked you what your “first choice,” school is. In my experience, the dream school isn’t so much the school where students eat sunshine and sh*t rainbows– like the name might suggest– it’s the school that students believe will hand them the best pre-packaged college experience, complete with the best major, the best faculty, the best friends, the ~*prestige*~, hype, hype, hype.
The problem with the notion of a “dream school” is that it insinuates that at only ONE school can you have the IDEAL college experience. (And THAT is just a bunch of slimy, circular meat product.) In reality, no matter where you go, you can have an AMAZING college experience, and it will only be ruined if you go into it thinking your school sucks or isn’t as good as the next one.
No matter where you go, you can have an AMAZING college experience, and it will only be ruined if you go into it thinking your school sucks or isn’t as good as the next one.
For this reason, and to stave off unnecessary heartbreak, I want to urge you, Dear Reader, to not get your heart set on any one school in particular. Not Stanford, not anywhere. If you don’t get in to said school, you risk having a negative outlook on whatever school you DO end up going to, and that would be the greatest shame of all, since (like anything in life) college is all what you make of it.
Even though your chances of getting into your “Dream School” are one-in-whatever absurdly large number, your chances of having a PHENOMENAL college experience is not a chance at all. How you choose to spend the next four years of your life is entirely within your control. No matter where you end up, you can do all the things that make college so amazing: Try new things, expand your mind, travel, throw yourself off the cliff edge of your comfort zone, and of course make friendships with the people who make your heart feel like it’s full of rainbows and sunshine. Besides, what you get out of college, not the college itself, is the part that matters.
I know it must be tempting to watch videos of my college experience and associate what you see with Stanford. But I encourage you to fight that. I love my school, but what makes college great are the people you meet and the experiences you have. You can have amazing friends and an amazing college life no matter where you go– and I believe you WILL if you believe it.
Here’s the part that’s gonna make a lot of people upset
So close your eyes, DR. And, perhaps for the first time, instead of picturing yourself jumping for joy over a letter of acceptance, picture yourself opening up a rejection email.
Envision the words on the screen.
Feel the tightness in your jaw and the swelling of your eyelids.
Then, hear the silence.
Visualize yourself taking a deep breath (in… out…),
perhaps shedding a tear or two (it’s okay to cry),
and then smiling and knowing it’s all going to be okay.
Dream College Experiences, NOT Dream Schools
You’re going to have a great college experience if you go into it knowing that those four years can be the best four of your life. Like I’ve said on this blog a million times before, life is all about perspective. Set yourself up for success in the only way you can: By being truly content with all the possible outcomes.
Lastly, Dear Reader, know that I am rooting for you. I am crossing my fingers and knocking on wood and blowing dandelions in the wind– hoping and wishing and praying that I get to meet you at Admit Weekend this spring. ❤ That being said, I take comfort in knowing that if you decide to make it so, you will have the dream college experience no matter what. Besides, everything always happens exactly the way it’s supposed to. 🙂
Um abraço enorme e a sorte mais boa,
A big hug and the best of luck,
Update 3/10/16, 4:40 PM:
Please see this question I just answered on ask.fm/cathincollege: