The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, February 29, 2008


Rejection: the end of the world as we know it?

I got rejected.

Now everybody knows, right? That’s probably the worst part of college rejection —“ telling other people. Like a bad break-up, you cry a little, get mad, and then you burn everything that reminds you of him and you think you feel better. But all it takes is one pitiful look from a friend and the whole façade falls apart.

Getting in would make me want to shout it from the rooftops! Getting a thin envelope made me want to hide the evidence and pretend the letter never arrived. Eventually people will find out, so there you are: I was rejected. Take it as you will.

Let’s face it: college is a fickle, fickle little man. Junior year in high school, half the post office arrives in your mailbox, begging and pleading, “Apply here! We are the right match for you! We are a top notch school!” It’s fun to flip through the 50 or so letters and weed out ones you think you’re too good for. Like an episode of “Survivor,” you whittle down the schools, feeling powerful and intelligent —“ you are deciding your own future.

But as soon as you send in your application, you realize that you are at the mercy of these establishments. You are wooed by a university, and when you decide you want them, they’re all like, “Hmm, let me think about this a little more.”

After disappointments from my top two choices, the second-string schools just don’t hold the same thrill. It’s like wanting lasagna and getting pasta with sauce and parmesan cheese. If you can’t get the real thing, you might as well go for something entirely different: a big steak. Okay, I took that metaphor too far. But in the event that I might not get into a college I love, a gap year is an appealing possibility.

At CCHS, college is basically a given and while everyone knows they will reach success, the question is how to get there. College is designed to help you find a passion that will lead to a job, and thus, money. Obviously, I want money. Is the idea of attending a “safety” school really so awful that I would risk taking a year off? I can picture myself getting a job and my own apartment, but it’s highly unlikely that I would achieve anything more than successfully putting a butt-print into my mother’s couch.

My first rejection was from a school I thought I had really wanted to go to. I applied to their communications school, one of the best in the country, and when I got that disappointing e-mail, I didn’t even cry. While I was passionate about the communications program, I didn’t get a huge thrill out of the rest of the campus. I still hated telling people about my rejection, though, because when I said I was fine, they took that to mean that I was still in deep mourning but trying to be strong. I didn’t really care why the school didn’t take me. I figured it was a combination of my low GPA and the fact that they didn’t need another white girl from Boston who was into theater. I looked forward to a fresh round of schools, especially a certain one that had been put on the shelf.

I applied early decision round II to that shelved college, and because my first rejection had gone so smoothly, I was not prepared for the nervous feeling I had for two weeks before the notification date. I really wanted to go to this school, I realized. I wanted to eat in the dining hall and work in the art studio and study in their classrooms, there and nowhere else. The day the letter was supposed to arrive, I left school as early as I could, probably breaking the speed limit all the way down Monument Street. I had been a wreck all day, so when the letter wasn’t even in the mail, I was fairly annoyed. At 10 a.m. on Saturday I picked up the letter at the post office, and the clerk offered me some extra Mosquitos with it. “You’re in it!” he said. “Have some extra copies.”

I had always felt in my gut that I wouldn’t get into this school, but after what the man at the post office said, my feelings changed. I was proud of my accomplishments, including my writing —” wouldn’t the school be impressed? I sat in my car and stared at the thin envelope. Lack of a bulky package doesn’t mean rejection anymore; apparently schools send all notifications on one sheet, so it could still be good news. I opened the envelope and peeked inside. The first line included the word “unpleasant.” I immediately shut the envelope and drove to play rehearsal, where I got absolutely nothing done all afternoon.

So what is the point of my sharing this personal experience with a town where only about 80 students are experiencing the same thing? I want younger students and their parents to know that rejection from every school is not the end of the world. I wanted to go to that second school, and it disappoints me, even as I write this, that I won’t be there next year. But I’m furious with myself for losing that day of rehearsal just because some people in a college office didn’t like what they saw on paper. I am trying to forget more about those who didn’t want me and focus on those that might still.

So if you see me looking sad around March 15, don’t worry: there is hope for me yet. ∆

© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito