I knew which University I wanted to attend by the time I was 13 years old. Since then, I’ve done everything I could to learn more about what would give me the best chances of getting in. I did so many early scholarships, I wrote so many college application essays in preparation, and I even visited the school twice a year to show I really was eager to get in. They had the exact program I wanted and the student body was so welcoming. It was everything I ever wanted.

Against my parents’ wishes, it was the only school I applied to. I did all I could, and then some—I spoke with University administrators, other employees, and students. I thought there was absolutely no way that I would be rejected. I even made a few close friends at the campus from visiting.

When I received the letter from them in the mail, I almost didn’t even read it because I assumed it was confirmation of what I already knew. But now I still can’t get the image of the rejection letter out of my head. “It is with regret that we inform you … a pool of over 10,000 applicants … we could only pick a few of that pool … this choice is not indicative of your potential performance as an exemplary college student.” That last part hit me the most. I could not understand why I wasn’t accepted. I reached out to the school, and they let me know that all decisions for this application period were final, and basically, “Better luck next year.”

I was completely destroyed. This happened two months ago and I’m still upset about it. But eventually, I realized that my failure wasn’t necessarily in being rejected, but in completely neglecting the idea of an alternate plan. This taught me a huge, huge life lesson. When it comes to planning something important, like the next four years of your life, you have to be careful. Obviously, it was important for me to have goals, but my failure was in not looking at them objectively. I should’ve listened more. I should’ve thought more. I was so stubborn and so one-sided. If I did get into the school of my dreams, I might’ve learned this lesson in a much more difficult way, so I guess I have that to appreciate.

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