While my students may feel overwhelmed in the fall, they feel like they still have at least some control over what happens next. They can keep their heads down and stay focused on executing all the pieces of the application from writing essays to searching for scholarships to preparing for interviews. But after waiting for four months, the only thing they have control over now is how they react to whatever news comes their way. Yes, no, or maybe. And it’s so hard to remember in that moment that the decision you get from one college doesn’t actually have a lot of bearing on the way your life turns out.
Which is why I was so delighted when one of my colleagues shared this post from actor and singer, Laura Benanti.
Benanti exactly captured the message that I always try to share with my students when they don’t get the news they were hoping to hear: that it’s okay to feel sad about this decision, but it also doesn’t mean that you’re not a good enough student or a good enough person in some fundamental way.
Benanti went on to accept an offer from NYU where she studied for a whole two weeks before she got cast in The Sound of Music on Broadway as the understudy for Maria. She would go on to receive a Tony nomination the following year for her role in Swing! before winning a Tony eight years later. She has since had numerous roles on stage and on screen, including returning to The Sound of Music Live! in the role of Baroness Schraeder.
The reason I responded to Benanti’s post so much is because she is an incredible example of the fact that college admissions is just one moment in the much longer trajectory of your life. And this seems like the perfect time to remind ourselves that no college - not even the highly selective ones - gets to decide how your life turns out; you do. So if you’re feeling the sting of college rejection, remember that you could be performing on Broadway in a few months, just like Benanti. Or more realistically, you will be having an incredible experience at another wonderful college that said yes to you.