My first semester senior year, during a meeting with my guidance counselor, she suggested I apply to an arts school since she knew of my love for theater and film. I immediately panicked and told her I couldn’t, that my parents would never approve of that. Instead, I decided to apply early decision to a school whose only factors that appealed to me were that it was 1) affiliated with the Ivy League and 2) in an urban city. I think I should have noticed the problem when I cared more about the school’s location than the offered majors.

When I finally visited the college, I immediately knew something was wrong. I didn’t like the campus and I didn’t like the educational programs; I felt that I didn’t belong. When looking through the majors offered at the school, I realized how little there were, and that none of them appealed to me. The people that I met there and I did not mesh well, and the clubs didn’t seem all that interesting. Even my parents had qualms with the school, citing how they felt it wasn’t the right fit, but that the Ivy League title was a great resume booster.

Coming back to my high school after visiting threw me into the influx of teenagers being recruited and accepted into Ivy League schools left and right. Early decision commitments were already being signed by my friends, and I felt the pressure of getting into an elite university since, well, it seemed that’s where everyone else was going. Me liking the school didn’t matter as long as it had an Ivy League label slapped onto it. But when all of your interest in a school is because of its reputation, that will most likely shine through your college essay.

“Why would you like to attend this college?” was the question I had to answer. Thinking back on my tour, and how much I disliked it, I came to a blank. This was the next problem I should have noticed. I researched the history of the school, the study abroad programs, the clubs and the majors,  but my essay ended up being a bunch of convoluted lies about my “desire to attend.” While struggling to write the essay for my top school, I could not think of any benefits of going other than the feeling of pride from my parents and peers at my acceptance. This made me become incredibly upset that the school I may be accepted into would be one I would not enjoy, and then I became guilty at the thought of taking a place away from someone more deserving.

Ultimately, I did not need to feel bad about that, since I got deferred, and then rejected. Deep in my heart, I knew I would not get accepted. In the end, it wasn’t about having the perfect grades or ACT scores; it was about the lack of love I had for the school, and I just know that that was seen through my application. I felt disappointed in not being the Ivy League daughter to my parents, but I also felt overjoyed that I would not be stuck somewhere I disliked.

After my rejection, I looked back at the arts school my guidance counselor recommended. It seemed to be one of the top film schools in the country, with an incredible film major and study abroad program. I decided I would apply there for regular decision as a last ditch effort. I sat down and wrote my essay, and all of a sudden, words started flying on the screen. I was typing about wanting to attend, listing the reasons why, and it wasn’t a struggle like before. It came easily, and it was all true.

However, after being rejected, my self-esteem was at a low point and I was not expecting to get in, but I did. Now I get to pursue something I’m passionate about, at a school where I feel like I fit in, instead of a university I only liked for being “elite.”

Being rejected from my early decision college was difficult, but I knew it would’ve been even more difficult to have gone to that school, stuck in a major I didn’t want. Rejection may be hard to face, but sometimes it can lead you to even better outcomes. Instead of going to an elite university, I’m going to an elite film school. An arts school I never would have considered because it wasn’t “Ivy League” material. A school that I am perfectly happy with and can’t wait to go to, and that was all because of one rejection letter that led to an acceptance someplace better suited for me. 

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