By Julia Kemp
Throughout my entire high school life, I’ve set my focus onto getting into a good college. Every grade I got and every activity I participated in were aimed towards looking good on my college applications. I spent countless nights ripping my hair out and shedding tears over the fear of failing in my applications and in having an unsuccessful post-graduation life. When it finally came time to apply to college, I was met with devastation. With an above 4.0 gpa, multiple leadership positions, and carefully crafted essays, I faced rejection after rejection. I wasn’t accepted to any UCs, my safeties said no, and I watched as my friends and classmates jumped for joy when they received their acceptance letters. My worst fear as a little try-hard freshman came to fruition: I felt unworthy and less-than, like all of my efforts in school were for nothing.
However, once I took a step back and looked at my situation, I realized that my acceptances do not define me. Forced to pick myself up and face my reality, I looked at my decision in a different light. No longer did I allow some random admissions officer determine my self worth. I knew then that what I look like on paper to a stranger is not who I truly am. An admissions officer doesn’t know how you treat others, or your humor, or your wisdom and strength. I decided that I would grow and thrive no matter where I ended up, and that I would go into my future with bravery and self assurance.
As the May first deadline for committing to schools came and went, the waitlist offers began to slowly trickle into my inbox. First UC Irvine…then UC Santa Cruz…then finally…Berkeley. When I saw “Congratulations” at the top of my screen, I was absolutely overjoyed—but for a different reason this time. Even though my admissions results were vastly different than before, I still understood that the silly little game of college applications isn’t really as life altering as I thought. For everyone who is applying to college in the future, I hope that you won’t let college decisions define your perception of yourself. What separates you from everyone else isn’t getting into an elite school, and you’ll better set yourself off in the future by being confident in the fact that only you define how your life will unfold.