Feature image from disneyparks.tumblr.com


Dear Sara,

Aloha! I’m surprised that you have time to read this letter with all the work that you have to do, but then again, we were never the best at time management.

As you’re wrapping up your junior year (and getting ready for the trip to Europe with band), I wanted to tell you how proud I am that you managed to survive this year. Despite the ups and downs of your ECs, the academic challenges, the countless nosebleeds you’ve had because of lack of sleep and too much stress, you’ve managed to come to this point. And let me tell you, it will get a heck of a lot easier after this.

College apps will be stressful (that is a given), senior year classes won’t be as easy as you think (unfortunately), and marching band and other band-related activities will undoubtedly take over your life (which you already know). But it will be during senior year that you reach new heights, explore areas you’ve never thought possible before, and achieve the success that makes the past years of hard work so incredibly worthwhile.

Remember to stay true to yourself during the college app process. Don’t worry about what sounds the most “impressive” or “deep” or “unique”. Write about what you think is the most accurate representation of yourself. Those essays will end up being such artful compositions that you’ll want to frame them up on the wall to look at forever.

Imaginary you hanging up your imaginary essay. (lifehacker.com)

Imaginary you hanging up your imaginary essay. (lifehacker.com)

Also remember to continue to apply for those scholarships! I know you’ve started sending in those essays (and getting rejection emails) but keep going, keep trying, and you might just end up getting the scholarship(s) that you’ve only fantasized about. (Hint hint hint)

Overall, my advice to you can be summarized into one word that I hope you remember: aloha.

Someday after you graduate and get a job and earn money you might be able to visit this beautiful beach in person. (disneyparks.tumblr.com)

Someday after you graduate and get a job and earn money you might be able to visit this beautiful beach in person. (disneyparks.tumblr.com)

Say aloha to the new opportunities you’re gifted with, and say aloha to the new people that you’ll meet. Say aloha to the idea of a new start, to the new skills you’ll be surprised to learn, and to the strengthened optimism and acceptance that you’ll develop.

However, I hope you remember the double meaning of the word — goodbye — and also say aloha to the people and experiences that have brought down your confidence over the years. But stay positive and be willing to give them a second chance! As I have come to learn more people’s stories, I now understand that everyone has suffering and sorrow in their lives, no matter what they may seem like on Facebook or at school.

So congratulations! In a few short weeks you’ll have reached the end of the incubation period of angst that seems to be a requirement for teenagers everywhere, and if we were to graph your happiness from here on out, the function would be increasing and concave up.

You'll get to draw and label and analyze graphs like these many, many times in the future (yay). (slideplayer.com)

You’ll get to draw and label and analyze graphs like these many, many times in the future (yay). (slideplayer.com)

(Don’t worry, you’ll learn more about that senior year.)

No, unfortunately you still won’t be able to cross the threshold into becoming five feet tall. You also will continue to be an awkward person that tends to trip over her own clumsiness. But you’ll learn to accept these things because ultimately, that’s what makes you you. You’ll find out all this for yourself when you go to Girls State this summer, and that’s all I’m going to say!

Lots of hugs,

College Sara

Sara Tsai

Sara is part of the Class of 2020 at UC Berkeley, intending to double major in Business Administration and Interdisciplinary Studies. As a graduate of Mission San Jose High School in Fremont, CA, she is well-accustomed to the boba scene in the Bay Area, and her favorite toppings include pandan noodles, red tapioca, and lychee jelly. In high school, she was the 4'10'' "tiny but mighty" drum major of the marching band and best known for her penguin drawings.