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  • Chloe Mastour

Since You Asked: Tackling North Shore’s Advice Box

Updated: Dec 13, 2021

Dear North Shore Notes,

I’m afraid I’m going to be devastated if I don’t get into my ED choice. Acceptance/rejection letters are coming Wednesday and I’ve convinced myself that there is only one school for me. Any advice on how to deal with possible rejection?

Please advise,

Stressed-out Senior

Dear Stressed-out Senior,

First off, thanks for reaching out to North Shore Notes to seek advice. I imagine you have sent out your applications and now cannot help but envision yourself at your dream school. But what if the unthinkable were to take place? If your ED is rejected on Wednesday, I am sure your mind will probably flood with questions as to where you went wrong in the application and what you are going to do now.

As upsetting as the rejection may seem, it is important to keep in mind that you are surely not alone! Millions of students are rejected by their dream school, way more than you might have thought. Other than those lucky few who walk away with acceptance letters from all the schools they apply to, most students get rejected from at least one school (especially if those schools are highly competitive).

The cold hard truth is that rejection is a completely normal part of the college admission process, let alone a completely normal part of life. It is a bitter pill to swallow, but it is the truth. I hate to be the pessimistic advice columnist, but a rejection on Wednesday is only the beginning! Just like everyone’s kvetshing curmudgeonly grandpa always says, “life is not fair.” The better you deal with a dreaded rejection in high school, the easier it will be to survive “the real world.”

Nonetheless, you have the right to be sad. North Shore’s Seniors have worked long and hard throughout the years, too long and too hard to shrug off an “After carefully reviewing your application, we regret to inform you that we are not offering you admission to [insert dream-school here].” This is no doubt a huge slap in the face, forcing you to reverse course on your future and virtually scrap almost everything you were once looking forward to.

Yet it is also not the end of the world.

Whoever you are, I am sure you can retain just enough dignity so as to not allow yourself to get wrapped up in your sorrows. For one thing, it is a bit pathetic. Though it is also pointless. Once you have given yourself ample time to cope with rejection, pick yourself up from your bootstraps, keep your head held high, and focus on the other options you've got in your life. You have plenty!

For one thing, your dream school is just one school set against the several others to which you will possibly apply after Wednesday. Perhaps you will get into an even better school in the regular decision pool! Regardless of whether you've heard back from these schools, it is time to get excited about them! What exactly are the specific opportunities that you like about these schools? What inspires you to apply? There is a reason you are applying to these schools, right?

Another piece of advice just in case Wednesday does not have the best news in store for you is to defer college for a year (which I am sure you have considered). A gap year, whether spent in Israel or working on something you are passionate about, may help you better understand just what kind of education you want. While there's nothing wrong with taking a year off before college, be sure you're actually making your gap year a worthwhile adventure: work a new job, travel abroad, intern at a company, or join a community club. A year off is sure to provide some interesting experiences, potentially strengthening future college applications! After your gap year, you may want to consider reapplying to your dream school, with a fresh perspective and a slightly better understanding of where your application might've gone wrong before. (Though, unless you are dead-set on this one school, I do not recommend this).

Whatever happens on Wednesday, I wish you lots of good luck! Remember, stay calm and be confident in your decisions; after all, you’re a senior and the hard part is far behind you now. Rejection is not the end of the world, nor is acceptance from all of the eight Ivy League schools guarantee automatic success. At the end of the day, your road to success is paved with hard work and the opportunities you choose to seize. It’s the end of the road for the senior class, and I hope yours ends with plenty of acceptance letters.

In his Meditations, Roman Emperor and Stoic philosopher, Marcus Aurelius once said, “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”

“Here is a rule to remember in future, when anything tempts you to feel bitter: not ‘This is misfortune,’ but ‘To bear this worthily is good fortune.’”

Well said, Marcus.

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