Thank you for applying to the University of California, Berkeley. The Office of Admissions carefully reviewed you application and we are not able to offer you admission at this time . . . we would like to offer you a position on our wait list for potential openings that may become available for admission for the 2016-2017 academic school year.
This was a common email I received during my college decision process because I was waitlisted at a majority of the 11 schools that I had applied to. Throughout high school, I was super involved, from interning at NASA to working in Congress, myself, as well as many other high school seniors similar to me, thought we were shoo-ins for all of the prestigious universities.
During March, it was super frustrating because all of my friends knew which colleges they were going to attend the year after, so they could rep their school names and colors with pride. For me, I accepted the waitlist offer for Berkeley and Harvard, so I didn’t really know where I would end up yet. Meanwhile, I committed to the University of Maryland, went on the accepted student’s day to check out the honors college programs and residence halls… I was mildly excited. When applying to colleges, I only applied to one in-state school, which was the University of Maryland. I knew I really wanted to leave the state, but it had to make sense financially.
A few weeks went by, and I distinctly remember the occasion when I received my UC Berkeley offer: Congratulations! I am delighted to offer you admission to the University of California, Berkeley. The animated confetti and balloons lit up my entire computer screen while I was home alone. I called my parents crying on the phone. I now had a huge decision to make.
I was super conflicted about this decision. I could stay in Maryland and have in-state tuition with scholarships in the honors college vs. leaving the east coast to go across the country to a school where I knew nobody. I would be leaving my family, my friends, and the entire life I knew to start a new college experience that was truly my own. On the last day to accept or decline the Berkeley admissions offer, I sat in my guidance counselor’s office to review my graduation speech, when the topic of colleges was brought up, and I started crying.
So basically my college decision came down to a coin flip. My guidance counselor flipped a coin: Berkeley was heads, and Maryland was tails. It was fate that the coin landed on tails, but I truly wanted UC Berkeley. Coming across the country, even though I miss my home, has been amazing. I have been able to experience so many new things that I would not have been able to experience in Maryland. Even though academics are difficult, I have learned and grown so much being independent from my family.
In the end, I truly believe that you can be successful wherever you end up for college. If you have a dream school and are accepted to that dream school- AMAZING! If not, it is not the end of the world. Everything happens for a reason and the college experience is what you make it to be. You are no longer restricted by outside pressures, but everything that you do is truly for you, so make the most of it.