Well, it is over. The process that started more than one year ago has definitively come to a close. And oh man oh man what a process it was.
And of course, I’m talking about getting my license. (JK that took like 2+ years lol.)
I’m talking about the college application process.
It’s been 3 weeks since I started college, (give or take, because it feels like forever ago), but sometimes it feels like I'm still applying to college. But it’s been a year, over a year, since this entire college process started, way back in the summer before senior year when I started to write all those goddamn essays.
And goodness knows I might have started out all happy and excited and ready to take on the rest of my life, but the college process mentally drained me. As those acceptances and rejections and goddamn waitlists (ugh, those waitlists) came in, I got more and more demoralized until I was just dreading having to make the decision of where to spend the next 4 years of my life knowing that it wouldn’t be in a place I had dreamed of going or in a place I thought I was capable of getting into. And I certainly didn’t feel great in April where I was still holding hope for some waitlists (I’m looking at you, Rochester) and all I was thinking about was having to settle.
It took me a long time to reconcile with myself the fact that I ended up in the last place I thought I would end up (basically, Rutgers was not exactly my plan), but having been here and interacted with so many amazing people and spending more time in the lab and in places where I feel like I belong and just getting into that routine of a new life, I see how well it turned out in the end, probably even better than if I had ended up anywhere else (which I might write more about later…).
But there is a moral to this story (I promise):
Seniors, take care of yourself and your mental health this year as you apply to colleges and as you start realizing that you are going to decide the next four years of your future in the course of a few months. It sounds daunting, and that’s because it is.
It is a veryyy tiring process and it drains all of us.
You have to make sure whatever happens, whatever goes not according to plan, whatever surprises come up, that you find a way to bring it back down to reality and put it in perspective.
And for goodness sake don’t compare yourself to the people around you and the people you meet and the people you see on the internet. I met so many people across my interview trail and generally through programs (like LSC and Columbia SHP - which you can read more about here) and all of those people were doing so well and reaching great heights (all of them who more than deserved all of it - the geniuses that they are) that it started to wear on me even more and insecurities were at an all-time high.
Find friends that will support you and not compete with you and will celebrate your achievements as you celebrate theirs. Ones that will keep you in check and keep you grounded.
I love this article one of those friends from my interview trail sent me from the MIT blogs after I told her I wasn’t feeling the greatest because of this whole college process:
Although of course, you end up becoming yourself.
Give it a read. (Also, that article shares a title with the book of the same name about the writer David Foster Wallace - which although I have not read, I have heard it is good.)
But what I love even more is the message she sent me with the article:
Sometimes choices are only at face value, you know.
Sometimes what you’ve been looking for was there all along.
To be honest, in life we have to make choices. Some of which may be obvious and others, well, those are more complex on a more fundamental level. But having the power to choose is what differentiates us as higher minds.
No matter where you go, you have the power to choose in a tit for tat way. But no matter what you choose, no matter where you go, you’ll end up becoming who you were meant to be anyway.
And you’ll do phenomenal wherever you go.
And seniors, I know this is literally going to go in one ear and out the other right now, but it’ll hit you later on, whether it’s in December or March or on May 1st. And when it does hit, just come back and read this post and read that MIT article and read that message and realize: everything will be alright.
And so good luck seniors, I wish you well.
P.S. The friend that sent me that amazing message is also a writer (an amazing one, clearly) so here’s a link to her informal writing blog.
And as always, thanks for reading!