A year ago today, I was anxiously crouched over my laptop on the living room floor, rapidly typing up my last MIT essay twenty minutes before that glorious 12AM EST deadline. I remember the frantic click-clack of my fingers, as they smacked against the keys. The glare of the TV was the only light reflecting over my anxious face, and no one dared really to speak. They could feel the sheer nervousness just radiating off of me.
I’m sure my mom said some encouraging words, like she always does. She has a common saying, “It’s a fifty fifty chance — yes or no”, whenever I apply somewhere. Obviously, this is very, very wrong. But it’s kind of assuring to think of it like this. It’s a yes or a no. And I really hope to God that I get the yes.
After rapidly typing up an essay, I sent it over so it could be edited and within 5 minutes I got a hearty “You’re good to submit!”. I was kind of doubtful seeing as how quickly I got a response, but I readied myself anyway.
I took a deep breath, staring at the white of the screen contrasted by the surrounding darkness of the room. I hit submit.
And I let out a sigh of relief.
If you look hard enough on the Internet, you can actually find my essays online. You don't actually have to look that hard, they're relatively simple to find. from early brainstorming in August to constant drafting throughout September to numerous edits in October, the moment had finally come. I was done.
But now was a different kind of anxiety — a waiting game. A countdown to 9AM on December 15. The only other apps to worry about were my UC essays, which I knew were basically going to be my MIT essays copied into the UC portal and an easy “Replace every instance of ‘MIT’ with ‘UC’.
That night, I had decided to not let my college decision consume me, free myself from the burden that is time, and spend my waiting game with a bit of fun.
In the time between my application submission and decision release, I did so so much. I auditioned for my choir’s winter concert solo. I went out with friends to the mall and to food places and explored my city. I talked with teachers. I played video games. I started drawing a bit. I played with my dog.
Do not fall victim to the waiting game. Take a deep breath. Inhala, exhala. Congratulations to everyone who submitted an application, regardless of the school. It takes a lot of courage and hard work to do so. And regardless of the decision, your hard work is not time wasted.
The college application process was one of the most reflective and introspective periods I’ve ever experienced. I was forced to take a good hard look at everything I was and try and boil it down into its simplest components, not as if reducing or simplifying myself, but squeezing my essence into a package to send off to colleges.
I gradually understood myself more and more, answering questions I’d been asking myself like “Who am I?” and “What do I value and represent?”. After years of never really finding an answer, I had come up with ways to define myself in a world where it grows increasingly harder to figure yourself out.
College applications are by no means easy and it can be a tumultuous and wild journey, simultaneously full of heartache and triumph. Remember that at the end of the day, after shipping out your tiny bottles of you to all these colleges, you are not giving parts of yourself to these colleges. You are not losing yourself in these applications.
I’ll conclude with the playlist I listened to endlessly during essay writing:
Happy waiting game! And good luck to all. It is a 50-50 chance, after all.
- If you look hard enough on the Internet, you can actually find my essays online. You don't actually have to look that hard, they're relatively simple to find. back to text ↑