College & Career

iStock_000004659494MediumEmily-GrossBy Emily Gross
Walter Payton

The wondrous April 1 has passed and I am glad to have say that as a senior experiencing the joys of the college application process, I have survived and did not need to be checked into an insane asylum! Spending hours upon hours and dollars upon dollars perfecting the essays and sending ACT scores made hearing the acceptances—and unfortunately, the many rejections—an extremely emotional experience. I like to think that I have a relatively reasonable head on my shoulders (although my parents would probably disagree) and I try really hard to put everything into perspective. Years of therapy have made me into a humble, reasonable and slightly pessimistic young adult!

Of course, you can’t tell someone how to have emotions, but after having to deal with the many characters that plagued this year’s college application process, I can confidently say that there are some appropriate ways to handle college responses—and some very annoying, cringe-worthy ways as well. Save everyone the eye rolls behind your back and don’t do these things when you reach this stage in your life.

First of all, don’t talk about how certain you are of getting into a college. Colleges are seeing double the amount of applicants and unless you’ve cured cancer and can fly, humility is your greatest virtue. There is no certainty in the college process and nothing will make people happier than when you considered yourself Jesus, but then couldn’t turn water into wine. BE HUMBLE. I can’t emphasize it enough. Stress and anxiety are coursing through everyone’s veins and no one wants to hear about how great you are.

Keeping yourself grounded will not only make for those dreaded rejections a little bit more bearable, but also allow you to be happy for other people. People work so hard— instead of hating someone for “stealing” your acceptance, try to be happy for them because they probably worked their butts off and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. Being realistic and content requires so much less energy than to be an egotistical, hating, jealous maniac. Save the frown lines.

College rejections suck, they really do, but once you get rejected (and you will) focus on your other options—because no matter where you end up, you will make it work. Please, I am begging you, don’t have a temper tantrum. You got rejected! Acknowledge it and now get over it! Posting pictures of yourself on social media with tears streaming down your face or angrily subtweeting people who got into your top choice will not change the admissions officers’ decisions. Please, go get a cupcake and sit back down.

This last one is for all my white friends—and yes, I am a basic white girl, I’ve accepted it. The privilege that white people have in society versus people of color is huge. It is there, it is extremely prevalent, and it is time it is recognized in the college process as well. Never blame the fact you are white for a reason for not getting into a college. It has happened in the past and I have seen it this year as people try to find irrational excuses for reasons they got rejected. Stop. Please, just stop. People of color deserve to have the same opportunities as white people and it’s time that majority of predominately white colleges begin to diversify their student population.

Applying for college is an extremely stressful time that can bring out the best—but most often the worst—in people. Having an open mind and a positive attitude will make it a little bit more bearable for you, and the people around you. Remember to be humble, realistic and to stay off of social media.

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The Mash is the Chicago Tribune's newspaper and website written for teens, by teens. The paper is distributed for free every other Thursday at Chicago-area high schools and is written largely by high school students.

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