Anonymous said: how do you deal with college rejection?
I’m gonna try and give my most sincere advice here, so let me first explain my experience with the process.
In my senior year of high school, I was in kind of behind everyone developmentally. I wasn’t able to think for the future, and I didn’t consider college very seriously, because it seemed like such an abstract, uncertain idea and it seemed silly to pretend I had control over the innumerable variables shaping my future more than I could myself.
So, in my senior year, I did not have a dream college. I didn’t even care very much about which college I went to beyond their most superficial differences. Haha, if I ever told my parents about the incredible indifference I had towards the whole process, they would be horrified. When applying for college, I just went for the schools that inspired some marginal interest in me, or the ones my parents and friends recommended. And when my choices were narrowed down to Cal Poly or UC Davis, I went with Davis because I though the arboretum and pond were very pretty and I liked the ducks. I’m not even exaggerating.
And guess what? It turned out fine. Even if Davis wasn’t my “dream school” and I was rejected from the majority of the schools I applied to that I was interested in, I found my place in the school I ended up going to. It’s all about making the most of where you end up. I believe that unless the college has some unparalleled, truly unique characteristic (which many of them don’t, even if they claim to), it is comparable in quality to other schools. True, it’s a good idea to strive for a school which is known for a program in the field you want to pursue, but many schools will be known for similar programs and there is no strict hierarchy governing which of these programs is “better” than the rest.
Remember, the college application process is at its heart a financial transaction, or a hiring process of sorts. The colleges sell themselves as better than the rest because they want your tuition and they want the unilateral (and sometimes cruel) power to pick and choose among a population of applicants larger than the number of openings. And, in my opinion, the whole idea of a “dream school” is generally a myth perpetuated by this competitive system in which schools exaggerate their superiority to other institutions, which are in fact comparable and will yield you a degree of similar weight and validity in the job market.
And also, the colleges don’t KNOW you. They could never know you from their very limited interaction with you. The college application process is a mechanical and exhausting process of repetition in which students are incentivized to reuse essays and personal statements and colleges use numbers and statistics rather than getting to know you as a person. So getting “rejected” by them is no indication of your personal worth or value, and so you shouldn’t feel bad for that reason.
Furthermore, rejection can occur to any number of possible reasons, many of which have nothing really to do with you as a person. The whole college application process is a complex, flawed system mired in the inhuman interactions—such as the cruelly cold and formal rejection letters churned out mechanically to put down the efforts of earnest applicants—typical of any system that has to deal with so many people’s information. I know people who have cried their hearts out because their name was automatically inserted from a database of applicant names into the “insert name here” blanks on some document template on a clerk’s computer, then printed in bulk on a whirring mechanical printer to be sent out en masse by a regulated system to crush people’s dreams. It sound melodramatic when I word it as such, but that’s just the absurdity of the system. To treat the dreams of fellow human beings with such a callous formality is absurd. So don’t be sad as much as indignant about it. No machine or system could fully encapsulate your worth and your value as a person, student, and future worker. Rejection is just an inevitable side effect of a flawed system incapable of treating all people equally due to scarcity of educational resources.
That got kind of abstract. I apologize if I lost you. But to sum it all up, here’s a TL;DR summary of everything you should keep in mind when dealing with college rejections:
- It’s okay to go to a school which was not your dream school. You MAKE your school your dream school; that is to say, going to college is a process of acclimation. Generally speaking, you will adapt to the college you go to and thus you will make the most of the resources they provide regardless of whether the school was your initial dream school. You will find the best in yourself regardless of whether the school itself is the “best”.
- Schools aren’t as different as they would have you believe. The college market is competitive, so they like to exaggerate to make their schools seem the best when they really are quite similar to one another. It’s more important to get a degree and get job/internship experience than it is to get a specific degree from a specific school.
- The college application process is a flawed system which does not give either schools or students full, holistic, or candid information about each other. Thus, rejections should never be taken as a representation of your personal worth or quality as a student/worker.
I hope that helps. I’m rooting for you, and I hope you get through this stressful process a-okay.