Coping with college rejection letters


Lauren Textor, Editor-In-Chief

Since I was twelve years old, everything that I’ve done in school, at work, and even at home has led back to one goal: getting into Duke. I made college into a dream instead of a reality, pushing myself to and even past my limit, because I knew that one day it would be worth it.

Then, two weeks ago, I got the rejection letter.

It didn’t matter that it was the only rejection letter that I’d gotten so far, or that I had known with almost absolute certainty that it was coming. That night, on my way home from work, I pulled into the Walmart parking lot and cried. It felt like the world was refusing to reward me for my hard work.

On one hand, I knew that plenty of qualified students didn’t get in, that it was one of the most highly selective schools in the nation, that I probably wouldn’t have been able to afford going anyway. But none of that mattered when I opened the letter.

I wanted to give myself some time to grieve, but there wasn’t any. Other schools had deadlines coming up, too, for roommate assignments and deposits and locking down orientation dates. The next day, I made my commitment to the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

My parents, friends and teachers have all told me that it was for the best and that things work out the way that they do for a reason. Whether or not that’s true, it still sucks.

To make matters worse, my letter came in time with the huge scandal over unfair admissions to top universities, which made it harder for me to accept. I go back and forth between “it’s my fault, I should’ve tried harder” and “I deserve to be there more than others do.”

The most important part of this process, though, has been learning to accept failure without necessarily thinking of it in the terms that failure is normally confined to. As someone who’s been treated as special, academically advanced or gifted for most of my life, I’ve never really “failed” at anything before. Every misstep I’ve made has been excused and I’ve been given resources to help me improve, unlike so many of the students who are allowed to fall through the cracks in the public education system. But a college admissions decision is final. There’s no spinning it, no chance to appeal.

During the past few weeks, a lot of seniors have had to make decisions about their future that don’t fit with their dreams or what their younger selves pictured. We’ve had to choose practicality over personal happiness in some cases, largely for the sake of money.

The best advice that I’ve been given during this time is that it doesn’t matter where you go, it matters what you do. So for myself and my fellow seniors, I’m trying to keep this in mind. I do believe that this class of 2019 will do great things, regardless of where we end up. I’ve been surprised time and time again by the passion and work ethic of my peers, even when it’s in areas that don’t align with my own interests. I’m not worried about the overarching future. It’s this period right now, when we’re feeling sorry for ourselves and stressed about the last few weeks of school, that we have to find a way to make positive.