I thought that I was a great writer. I passionately spent my nights scribbling thoughts in my journal or typing up essays on my laptop. Then, I thought that I was the worst writer (We regret to inform you…Please offer a place on our waiting list). But then once again, I proceeded to build my confidence to write back up, piece by piece, mindful that yeah, I am a great writer.
That space in between those two self-assured phases in my life was a very painful one, due to college decision letters. Those rejection and waitlist letters made me feel as if I wasn’t good enough. I had amazing grades, glowing recommendations, plenty of extra-curricular activities (all of which I was actually passionate about, rather than them being words to pad my resume). The one thing I was most confident about was my writing. I knew I had amazing stories to tell, opinions to relay, and an innate sense of humor to share. Of course, I also harbored two things that felt seemingly mutually exclusive – a check mark on the box next to ‘Asian‘ and absolutely no financial ability to attend a competitive institution. But I thought all of the other things could save me – especially my writing.
But apparently, they couldn’t. I endured through plenty of rejections (I’ll let you know how many once my credibility outweighs the credibility of any prestigious university that chose to reject me) and I toyed with the idea of accepting a place on many waitlists, besides ignoring the colleges that I did get accepted into, since they weren’t my DREAM SCHOOLS. So, my writing wasn’t enough to save me. I ended up getting off of the waitlist at one Ivy League and one “PRETTY MUCH AN IVY”, and I rejected both offers, due to – you guessed it – poor financial aid packages.
I spent so many months putting myself and my creative writing skills down and just questioning myself. I didn’t feel important enough or interesting enough or smart enough and frankly – although this SO isn’t true – I felt as if all of the things that I went through in life seemed to not matter to these institutions.
I have a lot of friends and acquaintances that got accepted into pretty much every school they applied to. Not only do they attend schools that aid them with all of the right tools that help students get into prestigious universities, but – and let’s face it – they can afford to attend one.
I can NOT invalidate the college admissions process. It is VERY difficult to get into a competitive school, no matter how perfect your application may be. I applaud anyone who does overcome that adversity. But, here’s the thing: The college admission world is a very small world. And yes, YOU, the lucky one, may get in. But getting into college isn’t the end of it, no. You see, writing essays noteworthy enough to impress the college admissions committee, being able to ace a standardized test (WHICH by the way, is NOT a reasonable way to measure intellectual capability) and filling the spaces in between with extra curricular activities is great and all, but here are other things you need to know how to do: Ace a job interview. Learn how to write professional emails. Have good work ethic (nepotism doesn’t always guarantee a stable career). Here’s a really good one – be able to write something that ISN’T a college admissions essay, or just a plan ol’ essay for SCHOOL.
High school is a very small pond, and although college is larger – it’s still a pond. Kudos to you for being able to put out essays that catch the eye of one very small subset of the world, but not everyone in this world is a college admissions counselor.
When you write those essays, and fill in those activities hours, and kiss your teachers EXTRA hard, remember that no matter where you go – you’re going to do great. You may have to work harder since the name of your school might not have an implicit meaning regarding your intelligence, but hey, self-made is the new black. And you must still work hard, even if you do attend an elite university. Never stop pushing yourself. Your value, skills, and talents aren’t measured by being accepted or rejected or wait-listed.
These photographs are handmade drawings by Jaimie Copprell, who is on a mission to paint/draw something every day, and post it on Tumblr.