Senior reflects on college applications process


Just over a month ago, I sat at my desk robotically refreshing the admissions portal for my final decision. I had received an email telling me I would be notified at 5 p.m. but I was there anyways at 4:57 p.m., clicking away. The screen changed, and some unsuspecting text appeared near the top of the page: “An update has been made to your application status.” With my final shred of optimism extinguished by the previous week’s series of disappointing decisions, I went into this one expecting nothing. I clicked on the status update, and a new page opened in front of me.


Backing up to July of 2020, I was putting my efforts toward getting recruited for squash. I sent out videos of me playing, called and emailed relentlessly and even got a few offers. However, only one of the schools I really wanted to go to showed interest, and after a few weeks of labored pestering from me, I was notified that the recruiting spots had been filled.

I moved on from that setback relatively quickly, taking solace in the unfounded belief that I would certainly be accepted into at least one of my top choices. I began the process uncertain as to what I wanted to pursue, but researching helped me flesh out my interests and goals, and I decided on majoring in finance. I would never take another biology class again, and the recruiting frustrations were cast aside as I started getting excited for my future in college, envisioning life at my top choices. This is a dangerous thing to do, and I’d advise against locating the best sushi spots on campus until you’re actually holding the acceptance letter in your hand.

After receiving these letters from my safeties, I submitted my reach school applications confident in thinking I was guaranteed one, dismissing any thoughts of ending up at the backups. From the beginning of this, it should be apparent that I was incredibly wrong in both my expectations and mindset. I will be attending Indiana University’s business school next year, and while my earlier feelings towards this weren’t too positive, I’m actually quite happy with how everything turned out.

My initial reaction was to blame the world for my “misfortune”—if not for the record-low acceptance rates or test-optional allowances, I would’ve gotten in. Yet, I had a good amount of friends who were accepted into top schools despite these challenges. Blame turned into regret.

I should’ve tried harder to get recruited or studied more for that nauseating biology class. In fact, having such a high-achieving friend group compounded my issues, causing me to develop an unhealthy habit of comparing myself to them and feeling inferior to the point of avoiding any conversations about college.

However, after thorough reflection, I’ve realized that self-worth is, as the name suggests, from the self. I can choose to compare myself and feel lesser, or I can take pride in my own accomplishments, understanding that my value as a person isn’t tied to the ranking of my university. I realize this is the equivalent of telling someone “don’t be” if they are sad, however the process of defining one’s identity is too abstract to be summed up in a few sentences of advice. I would say consciously stepping out of that competitive mentality—continuously analyzing others in respect to yourself—is a great way to start learning how to draw confidence from within.
In general, this entire college application experience has forced me to grow in a lot of ways. I’ve learned how to cope with falling short of my goals. I have become more sure of myself, and while getting into one of my top schools would’ve been amazing, I’m grateful for everything I’ve learned along the way.

For all those who will be slogging it out in just a few months, don’t let this stop you from applying to your dream schools. Apply, but don’t forget that no matter the result you are much more than the name of your school. You are your beliefs, passions, relationships and dreams… and you probably hate biology.