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For All Those Accepted, Deferred and Rejected

Posted by on Friday, December 12, 2014 in Admissions, Early Decision.

Gabi, my fellow Inside ‘Dores blogger, just posted a lovely post about her early acceptance to Vanderbilt. Getting an early acceptance letter is the best Christmas gift one could ask for. But what if you don’t get that coveted letter? What if things don’t work out?

Just a year ago, I was a high school senior who had applied early to a university as prestigious and selective as Vanderbilt. Just like thousands of other seniors applying, I had carefully put my application together and after months of preparation and work, I submitted my application to the university, waiting with bated breath for my decision letter (or rather, an email in this modern day and age). The weeks till mid-December were pure agony. I had what felt like hundreds of high school exams to prepare for, and the wait for my decision was only exacerbating the situation. However, December 13 arrived in due course and brought with it a very important email.

I was deferred (and later rejected) from the university. Of course, I was heartbroken the second I read, “We regret to inform you…”

But in the larger scheme of things, with the luxury of hindsight, I am happy things turned out the way they did.

The college admissions process has taught me a lot about life. I may sound like a lot like Yoda in this post, but the application process teaches you many life lessons: working hard to achieve your goals, accomplishing those goals and most importantly, dealing with rejection.

For all the high school seniors who applied early this year:

You start preparing for college the minute you enter high school. During these four years, you study for APs, ACTs, SATs and many more dreaded test acronyms, all for getting into the college of your choice. You write essays, take interviews, take part in countless extra-curricular activities, get recommendations, cure cancer and win a Nobel Prize. You submit your application and after a few weeks of sheer torture, receive your decision letter.

Many of you reading this may have already received your early decision/action letter from Vanderbilt and other universities. You have been accepted, rejected or deferred from your dream schools. What next?

1. Accepted.

This is the best decision you could have received! All those months of hard work have finally paid off and you have been accepted to your dream school. If you have opted for early decision, your college decision has already been made. Start stocking up on your school spirit gear.

The road ahead:

  • If you have opted for early action, then there may be a few more applications you may want to send in. But for now, celebrate! Take a break from school and treat your family and friends.
  • Remember to thank all those people who have helped you getting to this happy point in your life: parents, teachers, friends and many more people who have supported and guided you.
  • Some of your friends may have been deferred or rejected. Be with them and comfort them. Spend some time with them. Be with them when they need you the most. A simple hug can go a long away; help them stay positive for the regular decision round.

2. Deferred.

I was deferred so I know exactly how you must be feeling. Neither accepted nor rejected, a deferral is much like purgatory. But there is hope.

The road ahead:

  • Unlike those rejected, you do have a chance to update your application. First, check whether the university allows you to update your application and if it does, which updates it allows or looks for.
  • Send in updated test scores or high school exam results. If you have done more volunteer work or won a major award, send in those updates as well.
  • Sometimes, an extra letter of recommendation is allowed. This can go a long way in improving your application.
  • This may sound harsh, but be prepared for a rejection. Unfortunately, acceptance rates of those deferred from selective universities is not promising. Don’t neglect your regular decision applications in the hope of an acceptance from the university that deferred you. Learn to move on.

3. Rejected.

Getting rejected from your dream school may seem like the end of the world, but I can assure you that it is not. All of you are talented, hard working and bright students who will excel wherever you go.

The road ahead:

  • A rejection may sound like the worst possible outcome, but in the early decision/action round, it provides you the much needed closure to move on to your regular decision applications.
  • Don’t think of yourself as a failure. You are more than your SAT scores and GPA. College admissions’ committees look at a lot of things while deciding on an applicant. It is a holistic process. Sometimes, a bright applicant may simply not be the best fit for a college. I know people who have been rejected from selective colleges only to get accepted to even more selective colleges. Your time will come.
  • In one my favorite movies of all time, “Ratatouille,” Anton Ego says: “Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.”

This quote is very close to my heart. Attending a highly ranked, prestigious and selective college will provide you the resources you need to succeed in life. But in the end, you are responsible for making the best use of those resources. You don’t have to be attend a certain college to be successful. Don’t link your self-worth to your admissions decision from a group of people on an admissions committee you have never met.

As long as you are true to your talents and you work hard to achieve all the goals you set for yourself, you be successful wherever you enroll.

The university that I had applied to early had been my “dream school” since middle school. It seems amusing now when I cannot imagine myself studying anywhere but at Vanderbilt. In a way, I am happy that things worked out the way they did, even though I couldn’t appreciate it a year ago.

I still remember the day I got accepted to Vanderbilt. It was March 7 and I was revising organic chemistry for my final exam (time for a science joke: organic chemistry gives students alkynes of problems!) Out of nowhere, my mom told me to check my email. I was suspicious because I knew that regular decision emails were still a few weeks away. In my inbox was an email from Vandy telling me I had been accepted for a scholarship program!

Dear Aditi,

Congratulations! You have been admitted to the College of Arts and Science at Vanderbilt University for fall 2014.

That was perhaps the happiest day of my life.

Coming to Vanderbilt, I have made fantastic friends, met amazing professors and taken stimulating classes. Now that my first semester is over, I can say with conviction: Whatever happens, happens for the best.

Good luck to all you high school seniors out there! You will be fantastic and successful wherever you go! College is just the beginning of your lives.

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