Results have been released. Financial packages have been revealed. For high school seniors, the next step, the decision, now lies in your hands.

College decision season has probably been a tumultuous period, to say the least. You may now find yourself in one of these potential scenarios:

  1. You have been accepted into your dream school(s), have the means or package to pay for the tuition, and are now debating between buying the school apparel now or waiting to see if you’ll get free swag at orientation. You probably have joined all the college GroupMes and are posting pictures of college visits to show everyone how beautiful your future school is.
  2. You have been accepted into your match school(s), and are busy talking to upperclassmen friends and perusing college life blogs to figure out the best choice. Though you didn’t receive the incredibly exciting news you were hoping for, you are grateful that you have practical options and are looking forward to college life.
  3. You have been rejected or waitlisted at all your top schools, and feel really disappointed right now. While you watch everyone around you excitedly attend admit days, you are writing appeals and re-reading your original application to try and figure out what went wrong.

However, it all depends on perspective. There are always pros and cons associated with each university, and it’s up the you to choose what attitude to adopt towards your future home. Believe it or not, the college system is built on second chances. There are opportunities for you to transfer to top-rate universities, and you can still attain Ivy status for graduate school.

Possibly Yale??


A True Story

I remember back in freshman year, I watched as seniors posted their college decisions. At the time, I couldn’t even name all the Ivy League schools, and I was essentially unaware of all the details of the application process. Consequently, I didn’t know the unwritten rule: don’t ask people about their college unless they’ve already publicly shared the news.

For some people, it could simply be that they didn’t get into their top schools. But for others, family circumstances or financial situations may prevent them from going to their choice college. In most cases, those students tended to stay under the radar to avoid judgment.

One method of hiding

However, I noticed a Facebook post by one of my senior friends. She was going to community college, after having been rejected by many of the schools she applied for. She was disappointed, her family was disappointed, and overall it was just an unhappy situation for her. But she vowed to work hard and one day walk onto the campus of her dream school as an admitted student.

Over the course of the next two years, as I started taking AP classes and attending college information sessions, I regularly saw posts by my friend about her studies. She attended events, conferences, and developed strong relationships with her professors. She was twice awarded a department recognition for her academic performance.

She was on track for success

As I was preparing for AP tests junior year, I saw celebratory news on her wall — she had been accepted into UCLA, her childhood dream school, among other universities. Ultimately, however, she went to UC Davis as a Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholar. She had been going to community college in Sacramento, loved the neighboring environment, and already familiarized herself with her intended program of study.

When I was going through the college application process, I saw Instagram updates of her having an awesome time at her new home. She joined new clubs and posted videos of fun experiments she did in lab sessions. It gave me insight into what college life would be like, and I was happy for her and what she achieved.

Super happy <3

Recently, as senior friends have messaged me asking about life at Berkeley and I have been busy keeping up with schoolwork, I realized I haven’t heard much about my past upperclassmen friends from high school. But just a few days ago, as I was scrolling through Facebook, I saw a huge post from my friend at Davis. She had just been accepted into the Northwestern PhD. program in Chemistry as a Chair’s Fellow, and received a large sum of scholarship money. She’ll be spending the next five or so years in Illinois, pursuing a dream that four years ago she probably didn’t even consider possible.


In the End?

Her journey is the most familiar to me, but her story is not the only one I’ve heard of. The college system truly does allow for second, third, even fourth chances. But it all depends on your perspective and your drive.

Keep hustling for success

So, to the high school seniors now who may not have received the news you hoped to hear: will you despair at the name of your university and allow that to shape your college experience? Or will you view this as another obstacle to overcome, and work even harder for your goals? Will you give up before you even start the waitlist or denial appeal, or will you treat this with the same seriousness as you did with your original college applications? The ball is in your court.

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.