November reminds me of old dreams.
Back when Common App first opened to applicants, practically everyone I knew who was applying early had a 'dream school' of some sort. There was Harvard for Chewy, Yale for KY (which eventually changed to Williams), and so on and so forth. And then there were lots of well-meaning people - seniors, peers, acquaintances - who also propagated the whole 'go for your dream school!' philosophy.
Unfortunately, I was made of less decisive stuff than these people, so I had no dream school for the longest time. But it was hard for me to keep floating around, knowing that everyone knew exactly where they wanted to be - so (this will sound trite) I forced myself to pick a dream school. Initially it was Princeton, but then I read about eating clubs and thus abandoned the plan. So I went early action (EA) for Yale instead. For the next few weeks, it was nothing but Yale-this, Yale-that, bulldog-this, bulldog-that, bow wow wow.
And this is where I think that applying EA didn't work out for me as well as I'd hoped. Statistically, going for EA is all well and good - it hikes up your chances of getting accepted by a significant percentage. But psychologically, if you're anything like me, it interferes with your ability to apply to other schools during the period prior to EA admission decisions. I spent over a month working on my Yale app... and none on the others (bad idea, seriously don't do this haha). I can't bring myself to love any other school, or so I told myself during one of my less-bright moments, so I won't start writing until I know the outcome of the EA round.
So when EA decisions finally came around, surprise, surprise (being sarcastic here!) - I was deferred by my bulldoggy dream college. And I had to scramble to finish my apps to eleven colleges in the span of a week. Yet in the midst of all the incredible stress, I remember experiencing the inexpressibly warm touch of human kindness. Mirela, a then-acquaintance by way of my fat brother, adopted me and, and from then on became my self-proclaimed academic mom. Up till today, I don't understand why anyone would've spent an entire week of winter break proofreading awful essays written by an almost-stranger - but she did. Even on Christmas and New Year's Day. Even when she'd had a little too much to drink. I'll never forget that.
But anyway, beyond giving me technical help with my essays, I'd like to think that Mirela extended wonderful emotional support to me as well. This was crucial, seeing that I was the only deferred kid amongst my super high-flying, amazing, accepted-to-college friends (they're fantastic people by the way!). I remember messaging Mirela one night, when I was horrendously stressed and on the brink of giving up on my Columbia app:
P/S: 'Facebook User' is obviously Mirela
After a long wait, March finally tottered along. And unlike old November, March brought about new dreams - perhaps not the sort I'd initially envisioned, but pleasant and fresh in a somewhat unexpected way.
To cut the story short, some wonderful colleges opened their doors to me - not the bulldog one - but places like Wesleyan (which has friendliest alums/current students ever!), Mt Holyoke, UVa, Yale-NUS, Penn, Dartmouth... and Columbia, the one I'd so very nearly given up on.
Arranged in alphabetical order because I don't play favorites. Also Penn and UVa are tardy in sending out acceptance packages! And yes, those really are a pair of sunglasses that I got in the mail.