Silver linings

Why getting a ‘no’ was the best thing that could have happened


Grace May

It’s official: second semester is more than halfway over.

Freshmen have almost completed their first year at Carmel. Sophomores will soon become upperclassmen. Juniors are close to putting one of the most strenuous years of their high school careers behind them. Seniors can see graduation on the horizon.

Almost all of the Class of 2017 will be heading off to college next year. More than one hundred schools have said yes to a Corsair or two or twenty. The map in the CCRC is filled with pins representing the future homes of some of Carmel’s best and brightest.

But with all of those acceptances come more than a few denials.

Even after spending months beefing up their resumes, writing killer essays, and working their tails off to earn stellar GPAs, many seniors still won’t get into their first-choice schools. Some will be placed on waitlists, and others will just be told no.

Getting rejected hurts.

I know this more than anyone. I was turned away from one of my top schools.

When I first learned that I hadn’t gotten in, it felt like all of the time I’d spent trying to earn a spot at that top college was for nothing. I spent my fair share of time blasting angsty ballads, eating my weight in chocolate-chip cookies, and crying my eyes out. It was like the worst breakup ever. It sucked.

But after a week or two of mourning what could have been, I decided to reread my denial letter.

While impressed by your credentials, our university can not offer you admittance at this time. We wish you luck in all of your future endeavors and are assured that you will successful at whichever institution you choose to attend.”

Then, I took time to think about my last four years at Carmel.

Freshman year was a bit of a flop; I’ll be the first to admit it. I wasn’t focused on school and I had a difficult time adapting to Carmel. It was hard to make friends, and I wasn’t really committed to having any sort of social life at all. I don’t think I thought about my future once.

Sophomore year was much of the same. I still wasn’t happy, and that led me to make some decisions I wish I hadn’t. My grades weren’t ideal, but they were a bit better than they’d been freshman year. There were times when thoughts of college would drift into my mind, but those times were few and far between.

Junior year was my wake-up call. I kicked it into high gear and got my act together completely. I secured a solid group of friends that made me feel good about myself. My grades were better than they’d ever been, and to top it all off, I got my first set of straight A’s. Not only was college completely on my radar now, it was all I could think about.

Senior year was when I reached my peak. I took classes I was interested in, and I did well in them. I got involved in Campus Ministry, rediscovered my love for writing, created college applications I was proud of. I made mistakes, but I made them less often than I ever had before. I’m most proud of this year.

After putting all of that effort into reflecting on my high school experience, I wasn’t upset about getting denied anymore. I thought about all of the amazing schools I had already gotten into, and how lucky I am to even have the opportunity to go to college.

My time at Carmel, while far from perfect, was nothing to be upset over. It was triumphant and it was unique to me. The school that turned me away may not see it that way, but I do.

My point in writing this article is to help put some things into perspective for not only myself, but also for others who might be in a similar place as me. I want to stress that there’s no point in spending time being upset over things that can’t be changed.  

This philosophy doesn’t just apply to college applications either. Anyone can learn from his or her downfalls. Don’t be bitter, be better the next time around. Focus on the things that can be changed. And, if everything doesn’t work out exactly as planned, pick up the pieces and keep going.

Everything happens for a reason.