Where You Go Is Not Who You Will Be

Kelly Pien, Editor-in-Chief

Spring officially starts in a little over a week, which means flowers will bloom, rain showers will soon give way to sunshine, and people will put their bubble jackets away.

It’s a pretty happy time for everyone – except for seniors hearing back from college.

According to senior follow-up surveys from the past 3 years, roughly 80-85% of Campolindo seniors attend 4 year colleges after graduation. For these students, spring can be a nerve-wracking time when they find out where they will, or will not, be spending the next 4 years of their lives.

I’m one of these irrationally anxious seniors.

I know I can’t do much to influence the outcome of the admissions process at this point, as my applications were submitted months ago. As Frank Bruni’s now ubiquitous book reminds us, I know that where I go is not who I’ll be.

Yet, I’m still nervous.

The fact that I don’t know where I’ll be, geographically, is somewhat terrifying for someone who’s lived in Moraga for the past 9 years. But what’s more nerve-wracking is that I know it’s statistically unlikely that I’ll be accepted to all of the colleges to which I applied. I’m bracing myself for rejections by reading articles with titles like, “If Yale Rejects Me, Am I Doomed?”, “Billionaires show that going to a top college isn’t very important”, and “How to Survive the College Admissions Madness.”

For those of you skeptics, I’ll report my findings: yes, it doesn’t really matter what college you attend. A few years ago, The New York Times reported on a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research. This study followed students with similar SAT scores who went to a variety of different colleges. The conclusion: “Evidently, students’ motivation, ambition and desire to learn have a much stronger effect on their subsequent success than average academic ability of their classmates.”

And of course, some of the most successful people never graduated from college. Anyone ever heard of Steve Jobs?

This knowledge might not quell all of your fears, so I invite you to join me in my (admittedly not very scientific) experiment.

I plan on printing out any rejection or waitlist letters I receive and framing them. I want to use it as motivation to continue trying my best in whatever I end up doing.

Regardless of whatever happens during this college admissions season, I think it’s important to remember to celebrate each acceptance, as well as remember that you are not defined by your rejection letters.