I’ve always believed in signs. So when a friend first mentioned University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to me, I thought, “Hey, she’s doing this for a reason. Maybe I should look into it.”
Before I knew it, I was researching like I never had researched before. I wrote my essays, proofread my application, got great recommendation letters, and before you could say “Relax, stupid!” I applied to UNC.
As time went by, I became more and more interested in the school. I checked their Web site more than I checked Facebook. I just knew this was the school for me, and the signs started popping up everywhere.
There was the car with the North Carolina license plate driving in front of me. There was the guy in homeroom who showed up wearing a UNC T-shirt the day after I submitted my application. And, strangest of all, there was the small brown teddy bear wearing a UNC cheerleading outfit that I happened to find in my basement.
By the time March rolled around, all of my friends were being accepted to colleges and getting scholarships. Each day, someone would come to school with a huge grin, and we’d all know: She got in. He got that scholarship. She made it into the honors program.
I was overjoyed to see my friends succeeding, but I couldn’t help feeling jealous.
Sure, I had been accepted to five universities, but none of them made me want to waltz into school with a smile like that on my face. I was reserving that smile for the day when I could proclaim to my friends, “I got accepted to UNC!"
The waiting was horrible. I checked my application status online at least 10 times a day. I couldn’t concentrate on a single thing. The second I stopped thinking about UNC, someone would bring it up. I’d smile politely, tell them I hadn’t heard yet, then go bang my head against the nearest brick wall.
The pressure, the curiosity, the intensity were all building. Was the day ever going to come?
Decision day did come. And it wasn’t pretty.
I opened the Web site. I clicked “check my admission status.”
“Sorry to inform you” and “unable to offer you admission” propelled off the page and attacked me.
There had always been the possibility of rejection, but in the back of my mind, there was always that shiny glimmer of hope.
After a moment of staring at the computer screen, I tore away and rushed to my room. I ripped the UNC cheerleader bear to shreds. Then I sat on my bed and cried.
Telling everyone was even more depressing than getting the initial news. A lot of people didn’t know what to say. A lot of people didn’t realize I had put this school on such a pedestal in the first place.
I left the Facebook groups. I got rid of the Carolina pictures plastered on my bulletin board. I tried to distract myself by baking cookies, jumping in puddles and listening to loud music, but none of it did much good. I had been rejected from my dream school, and I was convinced I was going to end up going to a college where everyone would be like that one kid who shows up to class just to pick his nose and stare out the window. It wasn’t fair.
This is the part of the story where the moping, melancholy teen suddenly has a brilliant revelation and all is right with the world. Where she realizes that it didn’t happen because it wasn’t meant to be.
I wish I were this girl. The truth is, I’m bummed. I never thought it would end like this. And sure, I’ll go to college somewhere, and I’ll be fine, and I’ll make friends and get an education and become the person I was meant to be. And maybe someday I’ll look back and think, “I’m so glad I didn’t go to UNC! Then I never would have (insert amazing achievement here)!”
Maybe everything does happen for a reason. Maybe some day I’ll find out just what that reason is.
I think I’ll go to...Indiana!
Hello again, from college!
I just reread the article I wrote about UNC last spring, and man was I one unhappy girl. Getting rejected from a seemingly perfect school was one of the most crushing things I’ve experienced.
But since I’ve been here at Indiana University, I’ve enjoyed a variety of exciting college experiences: going to football games, joining clubs, doing laundry and spending more time trying to find my classes than actually being in them.
And then, in the midst of doing laundry one day, it occurred to me that it truly didn’t matter what college I was at—I would still be doing laundry.
I realized that what really matters are the experiences you have—not necessarily where you have them. A lot of the things I’m doing and learning here are probably really similar to what I’d be doing and learning if I were in North Carolina. And even though I still wonder from time to time what life would be like if I were there, I wouldn’t leave Indiana for the world.
So for all you seniors who are well on the way to getting the delightful “Hey, you’re too cool for our school” letter from your ideal colleges, fear not. You will end up somewhere amazing, you will make incredible friends, you will experience all that college has to offer. And you’ll love every minute of it.