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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCSB chapter.

In the midst of high school, I was the poster child for overachievers — acing classes, juggling AP classes, and even squeezing in shifts at my part-time job. What can I say? I craved academic validation. 

When college application season rolled around, UC Davis seemed like the dream: close to home and oh-so-convenient. Just a short 45-minute drive from my hometown, it seemed like the perfect fit — until it wasn’t. But guess what? Life, as it often does, had other plans in mind. 

Cue decision day. UC Davis kicked things off with a rejection letter that felt like a punch to the gut. Ouch! Cue the domino effect — rejection after rejection. Suddenly, my carefully mapped-out future looked more like a scribbled mess. Then I began to wonder, “Was college just not in the cards for me?”

Then came the last decision, UC Santa Barbara. Sure, the campus was gorgeous and the academics were incredible, but six and a half hours away? Yeah, no thanks! The mere thought sent shivers down my spine. I mean, who wants to be that far from their family and friends? 

Yet, I received the acceptance letter. I did a double-take, convinced it was a mistake. Excitement warred with panic as I faced the reality of starting fresh in uncharted territory. The thought of leaving my hometown’s safety net had me terrified. What if I got homesick? What if I ended up friendless? What if I wasn’t meant to be there? 

Nonetheless, I decided to follow through with my decision to go there. On orientation day, brimming with anticipation, I set out to forge connections. Yet as I reached out, my optimism dwindled as I struggled to connect with people. Conversations were stilted, connections elusive. While others seamlessly formed bonds, I felt like an outsider. It seemed as though everyone had found their groups except me. The specter of isolation loomed large, threatening to engulf me. Withdrawal seemed tempting, an escape from the sense of not belonging.

Yet despite the initial setbacks, I refused to succumb to despair. I dove headfirst into a six-week summer program designed to acclimate freshmen for the college experience, hoping to find support and friendship. Little did I know, this decision would alter the course of my college journey forever.

Within my first week, I struck gold in the friendship department — and those bonds have held strong ever since! They’ve been my partners-in-crime, shaping every chapter of my college story, transforming it from one of isolation and anxiety to a whirlwind of excitement and anticipation. I pushed my boundaries, diving headfirst into new experiences!

I even took a leap of faith and joined a sorority! It’s been a game-changer, introducing me to a whole new group of people and filling my college days with unforgettable moments. It’s been a whirlwind adventure that’s opened up a whole new world of connections and friendship. From forming tight-knit bonds to creating unforgettable memories, being part of this sisterhood has enriched my college journey beyond measure. Plus, it’s given me a platform to actively engage with my community in ways I’ve never imagined before!

Fast forward to the end of winter quarter freshman year, and let me tell you, it’s been a wild ride. It’s hard to believe that just a year ago I was going through the college decision process. But here I am, living and learning in the land of palm trees and ocean breezes! UCSB isn’t just any college; it’s a place that has taught me resilience, friendship, and how to find your place in the world. So, to my fellow rejection survivors: Embrace the unexpected, roll with the punches, and who knows? You might just end up somewhere even better than you imagined!

Hey I’m Isabella and I’m a first year pre-communications major at UCSB! I love Taylor Swift, reading, hanging out with friends, and going to the beach!