College rejection leads way to healing

Reflection brings rediscovery of self


Jacob Khabie

When I got rejected from my dream college, I immediately started blaming myself. All I could think was “what did I do wrong?” and “what could I have done better?” and “why wasn’t I good enough?” I let these self-destructive thoughts consume me for far longer than I should have, letting them impede on my school work and the rest of my college applications.

It is no secret that the college application process is incredibly toxic, especially for those applying to competitive colleges and universities. Students are pitted against their peers in order to “earn” spots at prestigious institutions. While the whole system is, at its core, a convoluted lottery, the effects of an acceptance or rejection can change lives. Acceptances boost egos and senses of self — rejections destroy them.

Feeling incredibly lost after the rejection, I forced myself to start working on other college essays. After all, I had to go to college somewhere, right? I forged on with the chore of writing thousands of words in supplemental essays, each one serving as a harsh reminder of the fact that I didn’t get in somewhere else.

Just as I was finishing up my applications, I decided to look over the 13 essays and short answer prompts I completed. In reading them, I realized something incredibly essential. In each of these essays, I saw a teenager with a knack for political volunteering. I saw a stage manager who cares very deeply for his theater program. I saw a Jewish person who is unafraid to show his identity. Most importantly, I saw myself.

College rejection had led me to completely lose my sense of self. I did exactly what my college admissions officers did to me — I saw myself as just a profile, just an application, just a number. I lost sight of who I really was. However, by getting the chance to reflect on my life, I was able to unintentionally build a mosaic showing the aspects of my identity that I love the most.

I still have no clue where I’m going to college. Most colleges haven’t gotten back to me, and I don’t expect results from anywhere until late March of this year. However, I know that regardless of what happens, there are still so many things about myself that hold true. I still am incredibly proud of the work I have done for my community. I still use integrity and honesty in my day-to-day decisions. No matter what a college admissions officer thinks, I am still me.