Mar 15, 2016
Having Survived Rejection (guest post)
This is a guest post by someone--Michael T. (UMD '19)--whose college essays I helped edit last year. He's a friend of a friend who wrote an entire essay about soldering. Like many of you, he worked toward MIT with a singleminded devotion and believed he would belong here more than anywhere else, but then he was not admitted to the class of 2019. Here's his story.
MIT decisions came out yesterday, and for those who spent all day waiting (and anyone else going through college admissions), this is for you.
It was December 13th, 2014 6:15PM. I remember eyeing my box of yogurt covered raisins, knowing that it may be my only comfort come 6:28PM, when the MIT early decision would be released.
I ate all of them. They didn’t help.
I’d always thought that I was the perfect fit for MIT, being the tinkerer/builder type who had a passion for creation. I wore around my MIT swag around proudly as if I were its representative. My brother, my cousin, and my best friend all made it in, so it was my turn to follow suit.
Come application time, I studied the admissions blog religiously. I learned how to write about myself, how to create the froyo flavor that represented me. Then, I forged those essays out of myself. Never before had I put so much work into an essay, going through revision after revision until I was satisfied. Naturally, I submitted a minute before the deadline (it’s traditional).
Then, as I waited those three months, my infatuation grew into an obsession. I learned more and more about this place where I felt I was meant to go, imagining how I’d install a WiFi enabled LED Matrix on my dorm door, how I’d bring my cooking to my friends. It was a setup for heartbreak.
What bothered me the most was that I wasn’t even deferred, simply rejected. It didn’t feel real. How did this happen? How had this moment that I envisioned for so long ended like this? I felt inadequate, worthless. Everything I had hoped for in the past months just vanished in front of me. Gone.
Ultimately, I didn’t make it into any of my “reach” schools, which was upsetting, to say the least. I was only left with two choices, neither of which I thought much of at the time.
Fast forward nine months into my first week at college. I was bitter. I didn’t feel like I belonged, I thought I was better. I belonged at MIT, and thus I made it my goal to transfer there by the end of the school year. Yet as the days went by and friendships were formed, the desire started to fade. It didn’t matter that not a single person on my floor did compsci, or that most of my friends were in a completely different field of science. I continued doing what I loved, creating uselessly fun devices. I met people who were piano prodigies, League of Legend gods, and long-distance runners. I realized that it’s not about where you are. Home is where your friends are, and if you’re open about yourself, you can make friends anywhere.
Since then, I’ve forgotten about transferring. College is a blur of events that’ll leave you wondering where the time has gone, and you’ll soon be asking yourself what you were so stressed about just a few months ago. While some places are undeniably special, it doesn’t mean you’ll only be content there. It’s easy to think that you only fit into a specific school, but it’s simply not true. It’s about what you do that defines you. Not a college, not a decision letter. So take comfort in knowing that your future doesn’t lie in the hands of a college admissions officer, but rather yours and yours alone.