Almost 2 years ago I submitted my early decision application to the College of William & Mary. It was a decision that I agonized over; I tossed and turned at night, pondering the cost benefit analysis of applying early to a school that was probably more than my parents could afford. The day of the deadline – November 1st – I gathered my essays, packaged my recommendations and supplementary materials, and held my breath as I tossed my future into the abyss of the local mailbox.
I’m thinking about this now because I just spent my Fall Break at home with my little sister, who is now applying to college. I’m pretty sure she spent all four days on her laptop trying to write five different college essays and triple check her Common App information. She looked absolutely defeated as she sat at the kitchen table with the dog-eared copy of Princeton Review’s 371 Best Colleges flipped open to Boston College. Across the country, high school seniors everywhere are facing the same predicament—approximately 15,000 of them likely in regards to William & Mary as the admission office prepares to admit the Class of 2017.
I’m almost positive that I am abnormal because I actually enjoyed applying to college. I loved the essays, which encouraged me to write about anything and everything that represented my life, anything that interested and challenged and inspired me. I loved the recommendations, the transcripts, the college presentations in my high school career office, even the college guidebook section at Barnes and Noble. It was a chance to go anywhere and everywhere; I was shopping for the place to spend the next four years of my life. My application was the result of years of hard work, long hours, community service and honor societies that I didn’t care for—my acceptance letter would be the tangible reward for so many years of preparation.
And when it came, it was in the form of an email. After a month of breathless, agonizing waiting, an email popped up in my inbox on the evening of December 1st. “Good things” read the subject line, and in a split second I knew that it had all been worth it, I was going to attend my dream school, I was going to WILLIAM & MARY and that was the end of it. Had I not been accepted, I would have applied to twelve colleges total, and all of them would have been beautiful and exciting in their own way, but none of them would have been William & Mary—home.
So I say to you, high school seniors (my little sister especially): don’t worry. Don’t panic, don’t fear, you will end up where you were supposed to be all along. When your own letters come, whether they are to your first choice schools or not, you too will find your future home. And if that happens to be William & Mary, all the better.