“Let me see your eyes right now!” My mom had screamed as soon as I walked through the doors. I hid my head as I ran upstairs yelling at her and telling her there was no reason that she needed to look at my eyes. I slammed my door shut, sunk into a corner of my room, lowered my head between my legs and just cried. I was at an all time low, and coming out of my six-week denial and escape from reality. For the first time in my whole life I felt like there was absolutely nothing I could do to beat this defeat.
College acceptance season (one-year prior)
Growing up, my friends were the straight As over. But I was the girl who cared more about extra-curricular activities and doing the things that I wanted to do rather than the things that I had to do. If a class didn’t interest me, then I just didn’t try. But if a class really fascinated me, then I excelled. As motivated as I am, I just didn’t give my high school grades as much attention as they deserved. I may have given my high school resume a run for its money—but my grades, not so much. I am also a very stubborn girl and refused to attend anywhere but my dream school. I thought that since my letter was taking so long to arrive that maybe, just maybe, they were going to let me in. After all, my essay had been pretty convincing, if I do say so myself.
I got home from school one day in late April and checked my mailbox with that feeling we all have when we’re waiting to hear from our top choice college. I reached inside and combed through the mail, coming across two letters to myself. One was a letter that I had written to myself in the third grade as a class assignment. The other a small letter from the school I was hoping so very hard to get into and planning on attending. Tears started forming, and I threw the rest of the mail back into the mailbox, I got in my car, and I just drove. I drove for hours. I don’t really remember where I ended up, but I found a parking lot that I wasn’t familiar with at all and just sat there as I opened up my mail.
And I quote,
Michigan State University: “We’re sorry we can’t admit you due to your grades. Please attend another school for one year to get your grades up and reapply as a transfer student.”
For those who know me, I’m going to stop putting on a show: when I received my first rejection letter from Michigan State University, aka my dream school, I wasn’t shocked. Depressed and devastated, yes. However, I knew a rejection was brewing. I simply hadn’t tried hard enough. But my stubborn mind was convinced that I was going to get lucky—I truly thought there was a chance I would get admitted. Today, I laugh at my stubborn self. I know that I hadn’t worked hard enough. Things like that will not just be handed over to anyone at all.
I still cried for hours and later became depressed for the majority of the end of my senior year. No other school appealed to me—Michigan State was all I knew, therefore, it was the only school I wanted to attend. It was my ultimate dream school. In my head I knew that I would have to do the one thing I just didn’t want to do at all: I would have to attend our local community college. The thought of that just nauseated me, including the fact that I would have to start telling people my unattractive plans.
With tears streaming down my face I opened up letter number two. A letter from my third grade self, and the last three sentences are forever ingrained in mind, “U wyll be a grate persyn. U wyll du alll u wnt to du. U wylll go to the coleg u wnt.” Apparently I was a pretty smart cookie as a third grader. I was giving myself life advice that life had planned to give me on the day that I needed it most! If my THIRD GRADE self was telling me to rise above this situation, then I felt pathetic as my eighteen-year-old self sitting in a random parking lot and sulking. I wiped my tears, put my key in my ignition, and drove home with the aid of Telenav (my blackberry GPS, of course—I had no idea where I was).
Coming to terms with this reality
I kept telling my friends at school that I had no idea where I was attending school next year. I told them that I was still waiting on an acceptance from Michigan State. Finally, during my last week of classes as a high school student I figured I had to confirm something for next year. So I printed off our local community college’s application, filled it in by hand (this was the only option), and drove about 15 minutes from my house to turn it in. I remember feeling like this was the absolute worst day of my life. I felt like I was giving up on my dreams, but looking back at this moment, I really wasn’t. I was doing the first step in taking control of my actions and trying to change a situation that I didn’t want to be in. Going to a community college wasn’t my first, second, third or even last choice—but at this point it was my only choice.
When friends asked for my plans, I still kind of beat around the bush. “I’m going to stay home for a year and just figure things out. I don’t know if MSU is for me and I’m not ready to go away.” This was partially true—I had to figure things out, but oh man I was ready to get away. Staying at home for a whole extra year was not the top thing on my mind. But I was doing it so I might as well do it well.
I made an appointment with a counselor to help me pick my classes. “Please give me a schedule with classes that will all transfer to Michigan State next year. I will be there shortly,” I said, maybe a bit too coldly. “Sure thing! You don’t seem like our normal student. Why are you here? You have an ambition that I don’t see around here.” I sat there ready to cry. But I did walk out with the most awesome schedule and the best professors I will have ever had in my life. Thank you, kind counselor. Your efforts are appreciated so much to this day.
The year I didn’t want, but needed to have
I didn’t want to be at community college for this year. I really didn’t want to be there. But I wanted to get out and that was enough to fuel my drive. First semester, I worked the hardest I had ever worked in school. Every single class was attended, most tests were one-hundred-percented (made this word up… no?), and I had such a strong ambition to succeed. My teachers saw such an incredible side to me and quite honestly, I saw myself grow happier. I was getting the best grades I’d ever gotten and my teachers called me their star student—school was becoming something that excited me. Science became my new favorite subject (this was the weirdest), I fought my way through history, and I did every homework assignment I didn’t want to do because I knew it would get me farther. I would get offended when my friends would make comments like, “You’re doing so well because you’re at community college.” GAG ME. I was doing so well because I was working so hard, and most of my professors were once professors at my friends’ universities; they just wanted a change of pace. No one was handing me the 3.91 I received—I had worked so, so hard for that, and it was the first time I wanted to stand by my GPA.