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I got rejected from my dream school—and it's okay

Jan. 11, 2018
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There isn’t another way to put this: I was rejected from NYU.

And I cried harder about it than I have ever cried. I cried harder about my NYU rejection than I did about my first heartbreak.

Due to time zones, the decisions were coming out at 5 in the morning for me. I stayed up the whole night, hoping that I was staying up for a “Congratulations!” Sadly, life doesn’t usually work out the way you want it to.

My brother ended up calling me 7 minutes before decisions were released, and we were on the phone together as I aimlessly hit the refresh button. The purple and white admissions page was burning my eyes through the darkness, but it didn’t matter. I was confident.

When the clock hit five, my eyes quickly scanned the admissions decision page, hoping to see Congratulations! Instead, I was hit with We regret to inform you.

I felt crushed. 2017 had been a tough year for me, what with broken relationships and failed attempts at success. At times, the only thing pushing me through was a possible acceptance from NYU. I thought I was an ideal fit for NYU, I had revised my essay again and again, and I thought my application was perfect. 

Getting that rejection felt just like when a child falls while trying to run too fast. I had to get up, brush myself off, and keep on walking. There was (and is) no room or time for stopping. When you fall, even if it hurts like hell, you just have to lick your wounds and keep on going.

I spent a whole day moping around. I couldn’t even bring myself to cry. The second day, when I sat down on the living room couch next to my father and he asked me if I was okay, I burst into tears. It wasn’t the first time I had faced rejection, but it was a rejection that I hadn’t expected. It was the rejection of a dream that had existed for years.

Despite my writing a whole piece on how to deal with rejection before it even happens, I couldn’t even take my own advice. I felt like a hypocrite. I think it’s like when you find out your significant other doesn’t love you as much as you love them—it’s difficult when you figure out your dream school doesn’t reciprocate those feelings.

If you’ve  just recently faced rejection from your dream school in the Early Decision round, here’s a letter to you:

To whom it may concern,

Congratulations! I would like to be the first to tell you that you’ve been accepted into our class of 2022: a class of hard-working, passionate individuals who have demonstrated high levels of accomplishment in their past 18 years of life.

Some colleges may tell you that despite your strong performance, they regret to inform you that they aren’t able to offer you a place of admission. But in this case, I would like to inform you that you’ve been accepted somewhere—there’s a college out there that is interested in you and values your passion and sees how special you are.

I know this time of the year may come with doubt and insecurity and that how a college views you may influence how you view yourself, but no one in this world, not even your dream school, can define who you are.

Going to certain colleges doesn’t grant you success. If someone has the passion and persistence to reach levels of success, they will, wherever that may be.

I visited New York shortly after my rejection. When I stood under the NYU flag again, the violet and white didn’t seem to shine as bright as it used to. The chatter of NYU students didn’t sound as musical. The sight of the buildings didn’t seem as tempting.

When my rejection rolled in, my mother reminded me that when God closes a door, he opens a window. Three days after my rejection, I received an acceptance letter from my reach school.

Don’t be stuck in a slump. You’ll find that silver lining—even if it’s unexpected.