As I sat in bed, nervously chewing my lip, obsessing over the seconds as they trickled by, I tried to prepare myself for a rejection from my top college choice. I had spent the last few weeks attempting to harden myself to the idea, and had been very cautious about telling people where I had applied. Only my closest friends knew where I had applied ED (Early Decision), and for that at least, I am grateful. However, despite everything, I still believed that I’d be accepted.
So, when the clock struck 8:00 p.m., I kicked my family out of my room and logged onto my school portal. It took a moment before I was ready to click the link for my admission decision, but when I did, I read the first sentence of the four-paragraph message. I had been deferred.
Sighing loudly to alert my parents, huddled outside my door, I quickly relayed the news and asked to be left alone. Heaviness weighed down my limbs, and the mixture of fury and disappointment fought for dominance.
In order to get into college, I had sacrificed a great deal of my social life to school, debate, sports, and various other activities. My last five summers included two internships, two jobs, and six weeks of extra classes. For a while, I had envisioned all of this coming together, like a great tidal wave to push me toward my reward: an acceptance letter to my dream school.
Awash in negativity, I just wanted to ignore everything and go to sleep. Unfortunately, this is not how the world works. Something did pull me out of my trance, and it was the realization that I still had a paper due the next morning, and that life was going to continue regardless of how I felt. So, I sat down, researched the Dayton Accords, emailed my college counselor, and tried not to dwell on my deferral.
The next morning, I woke up with a nasty cold and no energy to fight it. So I went to school with frizzy hair and a haggard expression, which was promptly pointed out by many well-meaning classmates with no filters. Although I was terrified at the thought of facing my peers, in reality, it wasn’t so bad. The four people who knew about my ED application were discreet and sympathetic, and everyone else was far too occupied with their own concerns to pay much attention to my unusual behavior.
At the end of the long day, I met up with two friends in an empty classroom. They had both been accepted to their first choices, and I was surprised to see how outraged they were about my deferral. In truth, I think that they were angrier than I was. By then, I had started to make peace with the decision, and yet they fired me right back up.
As I sat, wiping my nose and stifling coughs, I listened to them list out my best qualities, as if they were the only ones that mattered. And although I am well aware of the deficiencies that led to my deferral, I couldn’t help but agree. I’m not one of those kids who are skilled at everything; instead, I am very good at a select few things, and in actuality, that’s all you need.
So, I’m not going to acquiesce to my deferral. I’m already working on my letter of intent, and gathering up records of all awards received and accomplishments attained since I sent in my application. Deferrals are rough but they aren’t a rejection, which means that you can fight for your slot, and I certainly intend to.
Emma Ritz is a senior in high school.
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