Great perspective for any senior receiving a college rejection letter or juniors considering where to apply August 1. Our guest blogger, Julianne Dom, has been there and done that. This top student for whom “things always go (her) way” received a ding, had to reboot her applications as a senior, AND wish she’d taken a different approach to her college selection and application process.
You hardly hear a thing your teachers say in class today. Silence consumes the lunch table, everyone too jittery to speak. The car ride home consists of nothing but the radio playing songs that sound miles away. Once you’re home, you pace for 30 minutes. The clock hits 4 and you pull out your laptop. The website rejects your username and password over and over. Your phone is buzzing with texts. Some deliver good news, some don’t. Mom is hovering over your shoulder, asking for updates even though she can see for herself that nothing has changed. But finally, the screen pops up. Where there should be fireworks, there are instead words: “Thank you for your interest in the University of Georgia. We look forward to further reviewing your application in spring. Please submit your full application by January 21st. Go Dawgs!”
To be honest, things always go my way. I work hard for what I want, and it’s rare that I fail once I set my mind to something. I exceeded the grades I needed in class, I was a leader in every club I was a member of, I had been committed to sports and extracurriculars since the day I set foot in school. Teachers, parents, and coaches adored me. So why didn’t the University of Georgia? Being the overly arrogant person I am, I was already planning out which UGA shirts I would wear in my senior pictures. And being the overly confident person that I am, I took off all the price tags. Not my best call.
There are two things I want people to be able to get out of this post that I will probably make too lengthy because it takes me too long to get my point across. First, I want you to know that getting into your dream school isn’t everything. If you follow me on any of my obnoxious social media, you’ve probably figured out by now that I did not, in fact, end up a Bulldawg. Three weeks after I got deferred, I visited the University of South Carolina on the day of the USC versus Clemson game. I fell head over heels for the school and withdrew my UGA spring application the very next week.
Yes, the University of Georgia is a fantastic school. But it’s not the only fantastic school out there. Apply to schools that challenge you, but know that if they don’t work out you have plenty of options that would LOVE to have you. If you’re as prideful as I am, it can be a major confidence killer to get rejected from the school you thought you were made for. It hurts. However, it’s a chance to explore outside your comfort zone and original plans. If you told me a year ago that I would end up where I am right now, I would’ve laughed and thrown in a “sic ‘em!”. Right now though, I cannot imagine myself being anywhere else than right here in Columbia. Your plans might not be what you thought they were going to be, but I promise you that you are going to be more than okay.
Second off, enjoy the time you have in high school. You will hear this approximately 8,430 times in the next few years. Listen to people when they say it because they aren’t joking around. I got so caught up in making sure I had the perfect resume for college. I did clubs I had no interest in, and sports I hated with a passion (sorry lax girls, I love you all just not our sport). I spent so much time making sure I looked like the ideal candidate for any college campus that I spent a good chunk of my senior year miserable. Work hard and do what you need to do to succeed, but always make sure you play just a little bit harder. You’ll never get these years back, so don’t you dare do the injustice of wasting them on things that don’t matter in the long run.
My final piece of advice is two words: APPLY EVERYWHERE. I don’t care if you’ve never seen the school or you don’t think you can afford it. APPLY. The more options you have, the better. If a school even remotely sparks your interest, apply. Schools give out more money than you think if you are willing to put in the work. Word on the street was that the University of South Carolina gave out some decent money, so I sent in an application. It turns out the place can offer you a lot more than just money.
College is so much fun. Not just the University of Georgia or Georgia Tech or Harvard or the University of South Carolina, but all colleges. You dictate how your college experience will go. You haven’t met them yet, but you have roommates out there who are going to be your late night snack buddies. You have sorority sisters who will be the ones you call when you miss your mom just a little bit and need someone to get queso with. You have professors that will set you on the best possible career track for the rest of your life because they want the absolute best for you. And it’s not just your dream school that has that, it’s all those places that you took the time to apply to. Because you might not end up where you thought you would, but instead you might end up somewhere better than what you originally dreamed of.