The Fourth Estate

A Reflection on my College Process

Kailea Hieshima

There’s a certain way that I thought my life, specifically the next four years of my life, would turn out. I had this perfect vision of myself, and I thought it was going to be my reality. I had applied to 11 schools, and, of those, I actually wanted to go to two. I believed that I was going to end up on the East Coast in a tiny liberal arts college, never go outside, and know way too many of my classmates. I thought very, very wrong.
Even though I knew that I realistically could never get into those selective liberal arts colleges, because I had created this ideal for myself, I found myself crying at midnight in the middle of Paris, France after receiving my first letter of rejection from my first choice college. The next letter was delivered the next day, during a visit to the opulent Versailles, but this time I didn’t cry because I had come to a realization: my life is not going to work out the way that I thought it would, and there’s nothing I can do about it.
With that realization, I felt a whole truck-ton of anger. Anger at my friends who did get into their top choices, anger at colleges and their decisions, anger at Versailles for being way too interesting for me to ignore, you get the point. I felt like everything I had done up to that point was just a massive waste of my time and energy. Throughout my high school career, I have taken nine AP’s and will have taken 8 AP tests. And, honestly, I didn’t take most of them because I wanted to. I took them because I wanted to stand out on a piece of paper, and so that I would get to go to the college of my choosing. When that didn’t work out, I felt cheated and useless.
To put it simply, rejection is a massive, snarling female dog. But I’ve thought about it a lot in the time between Paris and writing this, and it has become very apparent to me that, because I can’t go back four years in time, there is nothing I can do to change the outcome of my college decisions. I can’t change the grades I have earned, I can’t change the classes I have taken, and I can’t change the essays I have written. There is pretty much nothing I can do now, and we both know that I don’t have the time or energy to repeal.
So I created a massive spreadsheet entitled “F*** COLLEGE DECISIONS,” and I began to compare my options. Instead of focusing on the amazing financial aid I could have gotten at Amherst, my first choice, I looked at the work-study programs at the University of Denver. Instead of shivering at the freezing temperatures of Middlebury, I researched the hundreds of donut and coffee shops near Reed. Instead of rereading the constantly looming “We regret to inform you,” I watched videos of UW move-in days. Eventually, all of my research brought me two final options: UC Davis and UC Berkeley.
Honestly, at this point, I was so, incredibly over it. The last thing that I wanted to do was visit more colleges, but my mom told me I had to, so I did. Halfway through the tour, I had decided.
Beginning in fall 2018, I will be studying Animal Science at UC Davis. I’m going to be constantly sweating and will bike everywhere, rather than being inside all the time. I’m going to meet fellow freshmen on the first day of school whom I’ll never see again. I’m going to smell like cow dung and horses, and I could not be more happy about it.
I’m not going to lie and say that I am completely fine with being rejected from my original top choices, because that would be a lie. What I am going to say, is that after touring Davis, doing some additional research about their programs, and actually talking to some current and prospective students (one of whom will be my roommate next year) I am at peace with what happened. I have complete faith that I will be extremely happy for the next four years of my life, and I am so excited to be going to a place that is pretty much the opposite of Amherst and Middlebury.
The point is, yes, rejection is a horrible, awful, ridiculous thing, but it’s not something that you need to dwell on for the rest of your life. Not getting into your “perfect” college is not the end of the world, and don’t treat it as such. Find the positives; for example, I’m really excited to go to UC Davis, even though it’s not what I wanted in the beginning. College decisions are stupid. Rejection is sad (and it’s okay to be sad about it), but get

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