Eating chocolate in bed would not usually be OK with me. Crumbs, especially in bed, are upsetting. But on this particular occasion, what used to be a reasonably sized bar of dark chocolate has by now been completely decimated; what remains is lying on top of the wrapper, next to me beneath my purple comforter. I’ve been under here for about two hours now, time I would usually regret not spending more productively — I could have gone running, taken a shower and dried my hair in that amount of time; I could have baked two full batches of cookies; I could have cracked out a few integral calculus problems.
On this fine Tuesday, however, my chocolate crumb-consciousness has been completely overshadowed by college consciousness. Noticing that I could be spending my time doing something else would require some balanced cognitive process, which I currently seem incapable of. Rather, I am reasonably content to lie here, not just waving at disappointment as I stop by, but swimming in it.
It would be irrelevant and distracting to discuss how many and which schools I applied to. Suffice it to say, I was not accepted to every school to which I applied. Instead, the wait list has become a familiar destination for me. For those who don’t know, as I didn’t a year or so ago, most schools have wait lists. Theoretically, they will take students off the wait list if admitted students choose not to attend, thereby opening up more space in the incoming class. Considering that one of the schools at which I was wait-listed has not taken a student from the list for the past two years, and another has a wait list as long as that of the incoming class, it’s unlikely I’ll be attending either. The (dormant) rational part of me probably knows this really isn’t so bad, since being wait-listed is kind of like getting a nod of approval. The academic equivalent of, “Hey, I don’t want to date you, but you’re kinda cute,” or something similar. From an even broader perspective than that, I’m lucky enough to go to college, something I have always wanted to do. For that, I’m very grateful.
Still, I am deeply disappointed, and very, very frustrated. There is nothing more upsetting than finding out your dream school, the one to which you have been writing practice applications since you were 14, would rather take students so unlike what you thought they were looking for — so unlike you — that you can’t help but realize they were not at all what you thought they were. To again pick up the relationship analogy, it’s like having a crush on the smartest, funniest, most attractive kid in school for years, only to find out he or she sometimes cheats on exams, has a sense of humor closer to your grandmother’s than yours and has weird moles. He or she is still a great person; just not for you.
With regard to college, Inglemoor senior (and my good friend) Matt Martin is in a position similar to mine. His first-choice school deferred him early decision then wait-listed him last week. Tremendously smart and always positive, Martin has been compiling a list of things he wants to do in college. His list includes: sleep outside for a week; put on an iPod and live a day like a music video; crawl to class; babysit a professor’s kids; go sledding on a cafeteria tray; and learn what the electoral college actually does. Looking over his list the other day, I was reminded that it’s not so much the school you attend, but what you bring to it that makes the difference. Every school has cafeteria trays, and Martin can bring his energy anywhere.
College admission, I would like to posit from under the covers, is very much a beauty contest — and the old truism reminds us, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” It’s a highly subjective process. For this reason, maybe we shouldn’t take either rejections, acceptances or wait-list notifications too seriously.
This does not mean, however, that under-cover chocolate eating can or should be circumvented. I would never wish it upon anyone, but what little life experience I have has taught me that the chocolate times are the times I grow (not only in terms of thigh circumference) the most. Ultimately, in my wisest corners, I believe this is the point of high school, of college and of life — to grow.
Hannah Joo is an Inglemoor High senior.