When I was considering what to write about for this blog post, I thought about what time of year this is from a high school senior’s perspective. And I remembered where I was at this time last year – waiting to hear from all the colleges I applied to. If you are the type of student I was, admission or rejection is often on your mind. And in that vein, I want to tell you a little story about how I ended up attending the University of Rochester. This is not a pretty story, but it has a great ending so stay with me.
Once upon a time, in a place far, far away called Oklahoma, there was a high school sophomore named Christine. That’s me. I knew nothing about where I might want to attend college and the administrators at my current high school were, shall we say, less than encouraging. There, the norm was to attend a local community college while the “prestigious” students went to the large public state university. So, like any informed child of the 21st century I went to the source of all knowledge – Google. Through all my research I finally found my perfect school. It was perfect for me in every way, the location, academics, opportunities, everything. I was completely in love. Except I forgot one thing – I didn’t check the rankings. Rank has always seemed superficial to me, so why bother?
Fast forward to the end of my junior year. A close friend asks “What is your number one college?” I respond by telling her, (for this blog let’s call it) Elite U. Her mouth gapes open as she speaks the words that fill me with doubt – “That’s one of the hardest schools to get accepted to in the nation. It was ranked [let’s say top 5] last year by U.S. News Report.”
Yet hope springs eternal, and although I knew I was setting myself up for disappointment, I applied anyways. I told myself I had a chance with my credentials, inspired essays, a generic alum recommendation, and most of all my determination. They couldn’t reject someone who wanted to go there this badly, could they?
They did. Let’s pause for a moment while I tell you something about myself. I’m a planner. Essentially, I had the next 15 years of my life planned out & this plan revolved entirely around Elite U. WHAT DO I DO NOW?! What do you do, when you get rejected from your dream school?
You pick yourself up & make a new plan. You move on. And, in my case, I dug up that envelope U of R had sent me sometime in December that I had thrown aside because I was far too in love with Elite U to bother reading about my admission to the U of R. After visiting the U of R and seeing how friendly the people were, my decision was a little easier, although I was still heartbroken that I wouldn’t be attending Elite U in the fall.
I promised a happy ending, right? Well here it comes – Here at the U of R, I can honestly say I am happier than I have ever been in my life. Time and time again, it has hit me how there are many opportunities here that I just wouldn’t have had at Elite U. As my work with the neonatologist at Strong picks up I become more grateful that I can wander over to the hospital at any time – there isn’t a hospital or biomedical research facility within a 25 mile radius at Elite U. Also here at the U of R I can reasonably pursue a B.A. and a B.S.; with the overwhelming academics at Elite U, it would have been a stressful struggle just to get my B.A. And for fun on weekends at the U of R there are more options than the Frat Quad – you can head to a club, grab a coffee and hear a local band, or catch a foreign film at the Little. Friends of mine at Elite U tell me that due to its isolated location there’s only one thing to do on a Friday or Saturday – drink at the frats. I prefer the variety U of R offers.
Moral of the story? Sometimes unplanned, awful rejections are actually the best thing ever. So if you get into your top choice this month – Great! And if not, remember, that rejection could very well turn out to be one of the best things that ever happened to you. It certainly was for me.
So, the burning question… What college does Elite U refer to?! I’ll leave that as a secret. Any guesses?