The Waiting Game


Sabrina Khan

The waiting game.
It’s what college admissions is all about. They tell you “late March” is when decisions are coming out, and you start scouring Google and College Confidential for the definition of “late” and every other decision day in the history of that college for the past decade.
The anticipation before decision day, especially if it’s your top college, your dream school, the one you’ve been fantasizing about since forever, is extraordinary. Extraordinary in the sense that it consumes you completely, and even when you’re trying not to think about it you inevitably are.
I applied to my top school Early Action, and everything was submitted by November. I think after it was in I stewed over what I could have done better in my essay for about two (maybe three?) days, and then forgot it ever happened. Come December though, in the week before The Big Day, I started reconsidering my life.
Maybe a position in Model UN would have made me look well-rounded. Perhaps I could have studied a month or two more for the SATs. My AP Chemistry scores are terrible. A little more dedication in sophomore English could have gotten me that A.
Those doubts were at T-7 days.
Let’s look at T-6.
Everytime I update my facebook page, all I see these applicants doing is research! I never did any research. Nobody told me I had to do research!***
***PS. You don’t.
8%. Eight-percent. That’s eight people out of a hundred. Four out of 50. Two out of 25. If there are 8,000 applicants, that’s SIX-HUNDRED-AND-FORTY ADMITS.
Mom, Dad, please. Do NOT talk about it.
The Big Day:
Breathe… there’s a less than 10% chance you’ll make it.
You won’t make it.
I remember waiting for my brother to be dismissed from school, sitting on the Evergreen steps with my mind spinning and my stomach in a constant state of flux.
In one moment, I’d imagine myself laughing and joking with other admits, casually reflecting on this day…Stomach relaxed.
Then: impossible. You hear about that guy who created a nuclear reactor in his basement? He didn’t get in. Stomach dropped.
(Actually something very weird was happening with my stomach. It was kind of like I hadn’t eaten in a week and swallowed bubbles instead.)
(UPDATE: Shout-out to Mrs. Zonis for this idea. We were talking about how the play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern by Tom Stoppard relates to Schroedinger’s cat, since in a very existential way they are both ‘alive’ and ‘dead.’ I couldn’t think of a better way to describe these last few hours before the decisions came out. It feels like you are simultaneously both accepted and denied. That is SO META.)
When I got home I’d set a goal to get another one of my college applications done before the decision came out, but that never happened. Even my parents didn’t have it in them to motivate me much after I’d gotten back. I couldn’t concentrate on anything. Then my grandparents came, and we were counting the hours and minutes and seconds away. My mom started a game of Jenga to break the tension (some of the best rounds of Jenga ever played in the history of man), but five minutes before 6:28 the game was put aside.
I logged into my college account as the seconds ticked by, and finally…
Whether you get rejected or accepted really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I hope you realized, as I did in those last few moments, that you will succeed regardless of where you go if you apply the same diligence and drive as you would have anywhere else. The “brand name,” the Ivy, the Top 10, the dream school, has no meaning unless you make one of it. So for those of you hanging on your last thread, it’s okay to freak out, but don’t let your disappointment define you.
Good luck.