In high school, I was constantly told by my peers, parents, and teachers that college was the “big leagues” – that huge leap towards #adulthood. Needless to say, application season was terrible – mostly because I attended a high school abroad with a staff that wasn’t too familiar with the mechanics of applying to schools in the United States. I applied for schools in California (several UCs, and private schools in L.A. and San Diego), and one in Michigan (UMich, to be exact. Yay, Wolverines! Darren Criss’ alma mater! No, really, he was part of the reason why I applied there, besides its fantastic English program. Damn it, 17 year-old Sami). College applications were expensive, tedious, and overall, just a major pain in the ass.
The wait was the worst thing about it all. After I clicked the “submit” button on my Common Application and my UC Application, it was pretty much 4-5 months of waiting and trying to focus on other things like, well, graduating from high school. It wasn’t too hard to immerse myself in my schoolwork- but I constantly checked my university portals over and over again. However, the biggest problem with living abroad during acceptance season was the time difference. I couldn’t even check my online portals for schools like USD and UMich because they wouldn’t be open until late at night Philippines time when I’d be asleep because my mom is a stickler for sleeping early (but seriously, God bless her because I definitely needed all of that sleep).
Months passed, and finally, it was acceptance/rejection season. College acceptances and rejections usually flood into peoples’ mailboxes/e-mail inboxes around March and April, unless you apply for early decision to certain schools. This time was pretty crazy for me. I was getting ready for finals and for International Baccalaureate exams (#IBSurvivor), plus madly checking my university portals each and every day.
Back then, my top schools (yes, in this order) were UCLA, UC Berkeley, and UC San Diego. I checked UCLA and UCB’s portals the most, hoping and praying I got into their English programs. Needless to say, I was rejected from both AND UC Irvine. I was devastated and broke down, thinking that I wasn’t good enough for any university, because later I found out that I was rejected from USD and UMich since my high school didn’t send all of my transcripts to them (and I didn’t know). Remember when I said it sucked being in a different country during application season? Yeah, the time zones really messed me up so I couldn’t log in to my application portals to see that they needed them.
I was a mess. I didn’t tell anyone about this because I felt so ashamed to not have gotten into any schools so far. I was glad my Facebook was deactivated during this time because I probably wouldn’t have been able to deal with seeing other people get into schools.
However, the one thing my mom told me was to keep my head up because I still had two universities left to wait for: Loyola Marymount University and UC San Diego.
Thankfully, Loyola Marymount University was kind enough to e-mail me directly and ask for my transcripts. I went back to my counselor, freaking the hell out, and she helped me send them out. I waited, and a few weeks later I received an acceptance letter from them. I was ecstatic! Now, all I had to do was wait for UCSD.
One day, when I wasn’t expecting it, I randomly logged on to my UCSD portal to see if there was anything I needed to submit. The home page looked different from before because…
I had been accepted.
I screamed and jumped out of my seat, and my mom freaked out, wondering what the hell was wrong with me, and I pointed to the screen and read that I had been accepted to UCSD’s Eleanor Roosevelt College. I got one of my top three schools! They wanted me! A few weeks later, I received my Big 3-D Envelope in the mail (yeah, it arrived pretty late). It was so beautiful and it came with 3-D glasses, a VIP name tag, and a map of the university.
I knew, after researching both schools and weighing the pros and cons that I had wanted to go to UCSD, and lo and behold, here I am graduating four years later.
You might think now that its where you go to school that’s important – but that’s not the case. It’s what you make of your time at the university. Wherever you will end up will become your home. That’s what UCSD became for me.
In the end, my counselor messing up my applications and going through all of those rejections were worth it. I was able to attend a university that I love, adore and consider home, get involved, make friendships that will truly last a lifetime, and collaborate with mentors who are like family to me.
Rejection is okay. It’s just a stepping stone to success in the end.