March 22, 2021

College Acceptances – The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful

By Cassandra Kuhn, spring 2021 marketing and events intern

Riddled with anxiety, I sat perched on my dining room table looming over my e-mail patiently awaiting for 6:30 p.m. when my fate would be decided. Well, maybe not my fate, but certainly the next four years of my life. Was I going to be thriving as a budding journalist in New York City? Surrounded by like-minded and academically intelligent peers, spending our days trudging through assignments and conjuring on the rooftop hideouts at night decompressing from the day’s hustle and bustle? Or was I going to have every dream ripped from my hands as I would dreadfully endure four more years in a place I would settle for? Or worse – in my desolate hometown in the middle of no man’s land Virginia. I watched as the digital clock on my laptop peered towards 6:29, then in what seemed less than a minute, I got the e-mail:

Dear Ms. Kuhn,

We cordially thank you for applying to study at the New York University; we had a vast array of high-achieving applicants this year. Unfortunately, we are unable to offer you admission for the Fall 2017 semester. 

I felt my heart sink below my feet and a sharp pain well inside my chest. Now labeled as “rejected”, I believed at that moment that all four years I devoted to crafting a well-rounded high school resume went to waste. My dream was diminished and I felt as though I was not enough.

College acceptances can be a mental and emotional rollercoaster. You spend hours accumulating references, carving hours for extra-curricular activities to boost your chances, all the while maintaining a GPA that exceeds any admissions officer’s wildest expectations. It is a time in your life that can drastically extinguish any confidence you have about yourself, which can ultimately posit you for a rough college experience. I struggled greatly with self-worth after being rejected from my dream school and witnessing my peers getting accepted to the nation’s most prestigious colleges. Questions such as “did I do enough?” or “what’s wrong with me?” ponder your mind as you now have to choose a school considered lower than your standards. But there is so much beauty in being rejected – I know, a lofty claim to make.

My story did not stop with being rejected from NYU. A little miracle was working on the side as I applied to the University of Florida one day before the application was due. I had no intention of going there; I mean I could not even tell you that the Gators football team existed. All I know is that I wanted to get out of Virginia and even the sweltering heat of the Florida swamps sounded more intriguing than another second in Roanoke, Virginia. After my setback from one college, it came to the final application I was awaiting a response from; UF. This time, I did not even bother opening the e-mail at the allotted time because I had already ingrained in my mind I was getting rejected yet again. That night, I sat down with my mom in our kitchen. While she penciled away at her People crossword, I opened my e-mail to the most awe-struck words of my life:

Ms. Kuhn,

Congratulations! On behalf of the University of Florida Admissions Office, we are pleased to offer you acceptance in the Class of 2021! 

At that moment, I welled up with tears in my eyes as I watched orange and blue confetti dance across my screen to the tune of the Gator Fight Song. I never planned on being accepted into UF or even going to Florida for college. I looked up from my surprise to see my mom in tears as well and that was when I knew I was going to be a Gator. 

Being accepted into any college is an astounding achievement you should be proud of no matter where you go. Having to sit and pour your heart for hours into applications that are probably read for no more than three minutes at a time, made me realize that it is okay to be rejected. I know the effort I put in, and if a college cannot see that, then I know it was not meant to be. Your plans may be grand and set in stone, but show yourself some grace and allow this time to shape yourself as a student. There will be plenty of instances in life where things will not go your way, after four years, three career changes, and one pandemic later I can assure you of that. I never thought I would be sitting here in my white-walled apartment writing for a nonprofit organization I become so passionate about, awaiting an interview in a mere three hours for an event internship that could change my life. I never thought I would be one week away from watching the endless hours of hard work with planning the first, quite large, socially-distant concert at a university during COVID. I never thought that one minuscule rejection would leave me to make friends who will be like relatives to my children one day or allow me to deeply appreciate the beauty of my hometown being 800 miles away from home. It was that one rejection in 2017 that brought so many more opportunities than I could imagine in the next four years, and I cannot fathom going to any other college. 

During this time, be grateful for the opportunities you have had in high school and the great accomplishments you have sought. Rejections will happen, but remember that you are more than a nine-character noun on a piece of thin, white paper. Let the perfectly valid tears flow, then pick yourself up and trek right along up that mountain towards something better. Your time will come when you see the joy of being accepted to college, and even though it may not be where you want to go, make the most of your experience there. Congratulations on all of your hard work this year, and wherever you may end up, soak in all of the memories you will make and allow yourself room to grow. 

“You are strong enough to face it all, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.” -Unknown