Waiting A Little Longer

If there’s one thing with college applications that I’m pretty sure every college-bound senior dreads, it’s waiting.  It goes without saying that it’s considerably more painful to wait for the outcome of one’s Early Decision application to one’s dream school.

I don’t particularly like waiting.  Typically, it gets me impatient because I’m waiting for something that’s supposed to be exciting but brief, like standing in the long, meandering line to take a ride on the hottest roller-coaster in the amusement park, or just waiting for your friends for a concert, but they are running half an hour late.  However, waiting in the context of a college application is a different story.  It’s like looking forward to your test result just so you can get it over with and move on with your life, but also being so afraid of the facing the music.

Again, it goes without saying when you consider the fact that it’s for an Early Decision application to your dream school.  Based on what I’ve been told about the Early Decision system is that once you’re in, then congratulations because you’re now technically obligated to attend that school (realistically though, it wouldn’t feel much like an obligation because you chose to apply there early in the first place, hence letting the school know that it is your first choice on the list).  It was exactly what I did for Columbia.

Applying to an Ivy League school is nerve-wrecking.  Although I’m honestly very skeptical about what they call the ‘holistic evaluation,’ I still think that every candidate, myself included, stand a chance because if any university were going to ask prospective students to write tons of essays just to understand them better, then why the hell not?  Then again, the grades still count — how much, I really don’t know and I’m also dubious about the claim that “grades don’t matter.”  I mean, my grades are decent enough but if I were to apply to the universities in the UK, where the offers are virtually predicated on what grades you get, then my chances of receiving a higher education would be in jeopardy.  I always thought that I was more presentable as an individual and not as merely a student.

That being said, I was inevitably nervous.  It didn’t really matter if my SAT were brilliant but not perfect (which it isn’t, because I didn’t get a particularly high score…especially by Asian standards!), or if my extracurricular commitments shined like the sun in the middle of Africa.  At the end of the day, I knew that I am one applicant among a pool of thousands and thousands and thousands of others, each with different test scores, passions, personalities, and capabilities.  Every university is swimming in a pool of diversity, picking out the very few who will fit into their school.  That’s what not only the colleges, but also my school’s Higher Education advisors preached in the past year, and I’m only going to choose to believe it out of the belief of their credibility.

Even then, I knew that there was really no saying whether or not I would’ve gotten in, even if teachers have said that I stood a “borderline” chance.  To reiterate, I was one application among thousands.  Today, I’m convinced that I did the right thing to believe them.

When I was going to get my decision this morning after a month of waiting, my heart was beating out of my chest.  I still remember my sleepless nights the past few weeks, only resulting in my sleeping fewer and fewer hours by the night.  Since I live in Hong Kong, the decision was released at 5 this morning (my time); when I woke up for school at 6:30, I was shivering from both the cold and the anxiety.  I reached for my phone and, while still lying down on my bed, searched for the URL in my mail history.  I slowly typed in my username and password, and quickly put the phone on my chest and waited for the worst.

I really don’t know if this is true, but every person I know who has been there and back have told me that when you read the Decision notification, you can already determine whether or not you’re in just by looking at the very first letter of the message: if it starts with a ‘C,’ then you’re accepted; if it starts with a ‘T,’ then you’re rejected.  It apparently sounded that simple, because the C stands for “Congratulations!,” while the T stood for “Thank you for…”

When I slowly turned over my phone, I saw the letter T and was going to feel completely floored until I realised that it did notsay “Thank you for…”  Instead, it said “The Admissions Committee…”  I had no idea what this was supposed to mean because nobody has ever told me about a letter that started with a T, but said “The Admissions Committee…”  The only thing I could do to make sense of the situation was to continue reading.  Even if it were the most logical thing to do at the time, what I read raised my spirits so much.

I got deferred by my dream school.

It may not seem like a big deal but when you’re somebody like me, you can only feel happy for yourself.  Think about it: it’s one of the Ivy League schools.  Whenever I think about being deferred by a prestigious university, I knew that it was good news because it means hope and a second chance.  If we were torewind a little to my past, I wasn’t a particularly good student in primary school.  In fact, if you were to compare me between then and now, the change is honestly quite remarkable.  Deferral means so much encouragement, and it was even bigger news for me because in retrospect, I never knew that I could make it this far in my life.  It’s huge.

To the dream college, thank you for reconsidering my application.  Even if it means that I’ll have to wait a little bit longer, I know it’ll be worth it because there’s still hope for not only me, but also all the other seniors who have gotten deferred by their dream colleges.  Of course, while it will be infinitely more competitive now, that’s okay.  No matter what happens, thank you for recognising me, and thank you for not ruling me out.

Sometimes, we just got to keep hoping.

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