Let's Chat: My Future Plans and the College Application Process
Holy cow. I have known for years that I would eventually be sitting down to write this post, but I can’t believe it is actually happening right now. I know that many of you are currently going through the same challenge that I am— choosing where the next chapter of your life will be. This has been such an incredibly daunting process for me. As a first generation college student, college applications were even more challenging to navigate.
As many of you know, I have always been a person with big dreams. In my earlier years of high school, I had my heart dead-set on receiving an Ivy League education. I worked my ass off for this goal, yet I never knew why I wanted it or even if it was truly what was right for me. I remember touring the Ivy Leagues last summer and feeling like something was off. Was this really what I was meant to do? Is this really what I want? I felt as if I had pushed myself down that path. I think I wanted it more to prove that I was capable of something rather than because I truly wanted to be there.
Flash forward the middle of the college application process— I’m feeling an odd mixture of hope and hopelessness, but mostly I am feeling burnt out. On top of the stresses of everyday life like homework and my after school job, I now had to tackle scholarship interviews and college decisions. If I am being honest, after a few rejections I just felt like giving up. Why did I push myself this hard for all of these years? Should I have just slacked off? Why am I doing any of this? These questions soon culminated into one big question— the question that I believe everyone my age should ask themselves point blank: What do I really want to do with this next chapter of my life? For the first time in my life, I answered this question fully and truthfully. I wanted to do something that made me uncomfortable. I needed to get out of my comfort zone— out of my introverted shell, out of Western North Carolina, and out of the harsh standards that I had held myself to for the last 17 years of my life. I just didn’t know how I would make this happen.
Here’s where the universe answered my prayers. In January, I received news that I had been admitted to UNC Chapel Hill’s Honors College. This meant that I could apply for a program called the Global Gap Year Fellowship. GGYF is a program that funds 14 students to have a service oriented global gap year experience. When I applied, I genuinely didn’t think that I stood a chance. As time passed, though, I made it to the semifinalist round and eventually to the finalist round. This meant that I would be attending a weekend-long program with the other 26 finalists. While I learned more about the GGYF experience, my desire for a gap year and my love for UNC Chapel Hill burgeoned. For the first time in the college application process, I felt that I was where I was meant to be. Feeling this was incredibly relieving, but I still had to wait a week to find out if I had received the fellowship.
On the day the decisions came out, I had convinced myself of the worst. For the entire year, I had faced more rejections than acceptances and more failures than successes. Standing in the middle of my school’s hallway at the end of the day, I received a phone call to congratulate me on receiving the fellowship. Usually I hate crying in public, but I shamelessly sobbed like a baby. I finally knew what the next era of my life would be.
If you will be going through this process soon, I want you to know that everything works out in the end as it is meant to be. Trust me, if someone told me at the beginning of my senior year that I would be taking a gap year, I wouldn’t believe them for a second. While I imagine this post is daunting to read for a rising senior or an underclassmen, I want you to walk away with a few takeaways. Firstly, think about what you truly want. Evaluate your passions, your dreams, your wants, and your needs. Keep those in mind as you apply to universities. Second, keep your options open. Consider every possibility you are given fully. If you go through this process with preconceived notions about where you want to be, you’ll miss out the opportunity to perhaps go somewhere that is a better fit for you. Tour every place you can and evaluate your options with an open mind. Lastly (and most importantly), it all works out the way that it is meant to. You will find yourself at the right place, doing whatever is right for you. Stay true to your values and your dreams, and I promise you that it will all work itself out.
I am thrilled to walk into this new era in my life, and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask. I wish you all the best!