BY KARINA BLODNIEKS
Welcome to the real March Madness. No, this one isn’t about basketball – it’s time for college decisions.
As CCHS students wait in anticipation of doomsday, one thing is clear: rejection doesn’t say anything about talent, skill or achievement. Sometimes, rejection can even be a blessing in disguise.
With most state school decisions already out, a large portion of the senior class knows where they’ll be calling home for the next four years. But when playing the admissions game, nothing is ever quite certain. With acceptance rates below fifty percent, big-name Florida schools like UF and FSU can be a shot in the dark for even the most qualified applicants.
“After being deferred on the first round of decisions I began to feel down and I felt frustrated with the entire system,” senior Carolina Chiari said.
Experiences like these aren’t uncommon. Every year, students face the fear of rejection firsthand, and oftentimes, this experience is taken to mean something about their merit and ability.
But let me make this painfully obvious: you are not your admissions decisions.
After a rough first shot, Chiari is now happy to call herself a Seminole.
“Sometime after the first decisions came out, I was encouraged to look at my deferral as a chance to improve in areas that I hadn’t put so much focus on before,” Chiari said.
But even rejection isn’t the end of the road – take it from Parth Ahya, CCHS class of 2016, who after being rejected from his dream school found a new home across the pond.
“Coming from a community in which college admission is seen as the end-all of adolescence, I was prone to overreacting to those decisions,” Ahya said. “So when I found myself rejected from my top choice, the University of Chicago, I was pretty bummed to say the least. I ended up deciding to take a gap year, and now I’ll be starting at Oxford University next fall.”
When big name schools choose between prospective students, the distinctions between them oftentimes boil down to semantics. Valerie Strauss, director of enrollment at the University of Southern California, writes that there are simply more applicants than there are spaces in the class.
“The truth is that there is always a reason that colleges accept a student, but very often there is not a reason that they don’t,” Strauss wrote. “It’s truly nothing you did – or even didn’t do.”
Strauss goes on to write that when choosing to admit students, it’s because they feel they’re a good fit for the school’s atmosphere and values. So rejection doesn’t always mean the applicant wasn’t good enough – just that, in the long run, maybe they wouldn’t have been happy there.
This axiom speaks loudly for senior Nicole Tjin a Djie, who after being rejected from a top choice school early on got into Bowdoin College and Cornell University.
“The one school that flat out rejected me is an amazing school, but the school I’m going to is better for me,” Tjin a Djie said.
As she gears up for the rest of her college decisions in coming weeks, she’s entering it with the mindset that wherever she goes will be the best possible place for her – because they wanted her back.
“My point is there is no magic formula, but one thing is for certain: a college does not determine your future, nor does a rejection,” Tjin a Djie said. “It’s all about the student and what they choose to do with the privilege of higher education.”
But for many, it’s probably not a question between an ivy league and an equally excellent liberal arts school. The fact of the matter is that some CCHS students will go to a community college or forgo college altogether – and that’s okay, too.
“I feel Broward College is the best route for me and I feel it’s a reasonably priced school with quality education,” senior Austin Spoonts said.
At the end of the day, with applications sent off and the hard work behind the senior class, it’s hope that’s left.
“Honestly, I feel like I’ve been stressing about school since freshman year,” senior Melanie Smith said. “At this point, I’ve become so tired of being stressed that I’ve begun to just accept that it’s out of my hands. I’ve worked really hard and have few regrets. Whatever is meant to be will be, and if not, then I’ll pick myself up and move on.”