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My own college rejection story

Kat Swantak
Kat Swantak, Assistant Dean of Admission

 

Now that our office is busy at work sending out decisions, I couldn’t help but remember my devastating college rejection story.

Way back when, I applied Early Decision to a Particular Highly Selective Liberal Arts College Which Shall Remain Nameless thinking, “Ooo! This will definitely help me get in since I’m committing so early. They’ll definitely notice my demonstrated interest!” Yeah…it doesn’t really work like that, Kat.

All of us know that as each year goes by, applying to college (for students and counselors alike) becomes more and more stressful. Even back in 2010 it was rough for me. With all of this in mind, I had a war room meeting with my parents. Operation Get into This Particular Highly Selective Liberal Arts College Which Shall Remain Nameless.

The strategy: Visit campus three times? Check. Apply Early Decision? Check. Follow up with their Admission office regularly? Check. Pull any and all strings that I didn’t really have? …Attempted.

It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.” – Realistic people everywhere

My mother had an “80’s-corporate world-office politics” approach to Operation Get into This Particular Highly Selective Liberal Arts College Which Shall Remain Nameless. So obviously she was keenly aware that pulling strings had to be part of the plan, even if we didn’t really have them. She had a long running, close relationship with her former boss and mentor, and it just so happened that he went to this college. Alumni connections (kinda)? Perfect! Not only that, his son also went there too (I think, the story gets foggy sometimes). Double perfect! But sometimes schmoozing just isn’t enough.

I got rejected right off the bat. No deferral, just a hard deny. Like a true idiot, I asked my mom to call me when the decision letter came in the mail while I was at school. Even though she knew it was a bad idea, I probably threw a hissy fit until she agreed.

I cried like a bad soap opera actor. It was a really ugly cry, it was loud too. Dramatic Kat decided to run down the hallway through my school, sit in the bathroom, and continue to bawl. Probably hearing my cries of despair, my best friend just straight up walked out of her calculus class to be there for me (props to you Alex). Puffy faced and sporting mascara-smudged raccoon eyes, I walked right into my college counselor’s office.

Evidence that I truly was that dramatic, and apparently terrible at writing.

Now, my counselor was one no-nonsense, straight-business, blunt woman. Obviously she knew what happened right away. She got out one of her handy dandy boxes of tissues (Puffs Plus with Lotion. She didn’t skimp) and offered maybe two or three sentences of comfort. Then? “Alright, what’s the plan? Dickinson?” I stared at her and just said oh-so eloquently, “Yeah.”

I went to Dickinson College and LOVED it. Not attending This Particular Highly Selective Liberal Arts College Which Shall Remain Nameless was fate. In the end, I wasn’t meant to be there. I was meant to go to Dickinson. It sounds really lame, but I swear these things always work out. Whether it’s from a college, a partner, or a bank, rejection sucks. It’s okay for things to suck. But life goes on and Armageddon or The Rapture doesn’t happen.

You will find the best college for you. That’s all that matters.