Hello everyone. Now that my college process is all but over, I decided to just share my experiences about dealing with rejection, settling for a safety school, and just general advice for anyone who may be interested. My story is certainly not unique but I just wanted to get it out there and this is the perfect forum to do that.
I've always been the type of kid who succeeded without trying; a gifted slacker, as some would say. My grades throughout high school were good but not great, a few B's here and there dragged me down to about a 3.6 GPA. Still, I was involved in many school activities, had an interesting background, and had a solid amount d natural intelligence - hence why I did so well on standardized tests.
I got a 2300 on my SAT I midway through junior year, and I realized I could start looking at some really selective schools with a score like that (I hadn't really looked into college application before that). So I became the kid who spent every waking second involved in the college process. In the course of ~6 months, I visited 24 schools (flew out to CA and IL just to visit them, I live in CT),retook my SAT II's 3 times, and started stacking my resume. I was confident that I had a good chance, with my stats, of acceptance to a great school.
In the beginning of senior year, I worked my ass off. I pulled my GPA up to a 3.8 UW, scored 740+ on my SAT II's, got a job, worked on my essays and supplements for MONTHS, etc etc. I ended up applying to 20 schools (yes, 20 - thank you, common app), with a healthy mix of reaches, safeties, and matches. At this point I'll break off a little bit just to give my hard stats and my list of schools, which I guess is what most people actually want to see.
SAT I: 2300 - 760 CR 740 M 800 W
Course load: All AP/Honors classes
AP Classes: Lang (5), Psych (5), Calc AB, US History, Lit
Class Rank: N/A
SAT II's: 740 M2, 770 Lit
EC: Varsity Tennis Captain/1 Singles, Key Club Vice President, Band Section Leader, School Newspaper, Dragons in Action (CC), Freshman Orientation Leader, Upward Bound for 6 years, Crew, Piano for 5 years, Part-Time paid job, DECA - 1st place at State Competition, more
Hooks/Essay: 1st generation immigrant from Russia, bilingual
Recs: good, not staggering
I thought I had a solid chance of attending one of my many elite schools. However, I would soon learn how to deal with rejection. I got into 6 of my 20 schools, and none of my reaches or matches. For those interested in a full list,
Stanford - EA R
Harvard - R (interview)
Yale - R (interview)
UPenn - R
Princeton - R (interview)
Brown - R (dream school)
Columbia - R
Northwestern - R
UC Berkeley - R
UCLA - R
USC - R
NYU - R
Tufts - R
Boston College - W
Northeastern - A
Boston University - A
UVM Honors - A
UMass Amherst Honors - A
Bentley Honors - A
UConn Honors - A
I can tell you it was not easy to receive 13 rejection letters in the span of a week. Seeing all your dreams crushed before your eyes is not a good feeling. Not to mention one of my best friends is our valedictorian, she got into MIT and Yale. For a while, I was lost. I never envisioned myself picking from the 6 schools I actually did get into. I spent about another month on intensive research and multiple campus visits to all these schools and eventually narrowed it down to Northeastern and UConn Honors, my flagship. Side note: money was not an issue - all the schools I got into gave me very generous merit aid, and my father receives tuition benefits for my education from his place of work (a highly regarded LAC).
When it came down to it, I chose UConn. The Honors program greatly impressed me, as did their business school and career services, two of the things most important to me. But in the end, I picked UConn because it just felt right. Of the schools I got into, UConn was the only one I felt at home at. I went against many things when choosing it. Rankings, family opinion, location, the fact that EVERYONE from my school goes to UConn, etc. So if that's the only thing people get from this post, it's that. Pick the school that feels right to you. In the end, that's what decides if you will be happy there. Not US News and World Report.
I certainly gained a lot of personal knowledge from this process. I'm sure there are many students out there like me, who are just unaccustomed to failure. I was used to being successful because of my inherent intelligence, which is why my stream of rejections hit me like a freight train. I tried to blame it on various things - I'm a white middle class male from CT, went to a public school, no legacy (my VD friend had legacy and connections at Yale), but in the end none of that matters. Sitting around feeling sorry for yourself won't get you an acceptance. I realize that now. As cliche as it may sound, life sucks and you will have a LOT of problems thrown at you. It's making the most of them that counts. I'm sure anyone in my situation has heard it a thousand times before - "make the most out of college wherever you go", and as overused as that may be, I've become inspired by it. Did I deserve to get into better schools? I think so. Did I foresee myself going to my 17th choice? No. But will I make the most of it? Absolutely.
I plan on working myself to the bone at UConn. I want to distinguish myself from the 29,999 other kids who go there. I want a 4.0. I want internships. I want to join organizations, start clubs, play sports, be INVOLVED. I want to come out of college with a stacked resume, impressive credentials, and the tools and work ethic I need to go on to grad school and get an MBA. That's my mission. And in the end it doesn't matter if I go to Harvard or Eastern CT State. What matters is what I make of it.
I'm sorry for the long-winded post and I appreciate anyone who actually takes the time to read it all. I just really wanted to get my story out there, especially since college admissions are getting more and more rigorous each year, and every year there thousands of qualified applicants like me who have to face disappointment head-on. This isn't meant to discourage anyone from applying to their dream school, just my personal experience. If anyone gets anything positive from this post, I'll be happy because I can't so much about my situation, but I can try to help others deal with theirs. Thanks guys and good luck to everyone in their respective futures!