Leading up to the first week of November, my college counselor stayed after school with me to push me towards finishing application supplements.

The week before the first of November forced me into essay-writing overdrive. Honestly, I had only started my QuestBridge partner school applications at my college counselor’s urging. I imagined on October 22 I would find out I had become a National College Match Finalist. Instead, on October 22, I began a fourteen day trek to finish the required materials eight schools needed. I hardly slept that week, trying to concentrate on the supplemental essays and financial aid forms as best I could with school. Needless to say, I would never go back in time to experience my sleep deprivation. It was so physically and emotionally draining to put everything together.

It has been a reflective process for me. I have learned so much about myself, my dreams and how they relate to my plans. However, what I found most difficult to learn about myself is how I skirt around issues before I say what I mean to say.

The process of writing my essays was something I loved, though, as much as it was exhausting. I found that the essays I ended up writing were just as much for me as they were for admission offices. Having these essays to write gave me an opportunity to reflect on the fact that I have made it this far. It began to matter very little to me what I thought college admissions would want to hear. This process was so much more about me. I took this opportunity to seriously reflect on my beliefs and actions. Every time I went back to make edits on my autobiographical essay I was faced with the option to reveal more about myself, less about myself, or something different about myself.

One thing I had wish I had known from the start was how to stay calm. Even though when I read I was not among the 440 students matched with full-ride scholarships to schools it took me a day to cry, it is something that I learned from. I knew the odds were against me. I was prepared for the worst yet hoping for the best. The night after I received news that I had not been a Match recipient, I took a look at net price calculators for the less selective schools I had applied to. It was not my intention to induce tears but that was exactly what I did. It was difficult getting to sleep that night because in my mind I saw the five-figure numbers I would have to face. I cried not so much because I needed to know I was going to a partner college, but because I desperately needed to know that I would find a way despite the cost. It was a sobering moment because for years I had pushed the very thought to the side, thinking it would all work out soon enough, if only I worked hard enough.

I had to get serious about applying to every scholarship I could right after finishing the QuestBridge process. From there, I had eight more schools to finish. Around the 20th of November I was ready to submit 4 public university applications. I had three private university applications to finish in time for the first of January.

After I did not match with any of the eight schools through QuestBridge I quickly decided to apply Early Action to a college in Colorado. This was my first college rejection. Ask me three months ago how I would have responded to this, and I likely would have stared you down.

In some sort of strange way, I think the QuestBridge results prepared me for this. Everything I had gone through before Christmas Break prepared me for the news of my early action decision. Despite crying in my counselor’s office only days before the release of the decisions after telling her about the net price calculators, I had to be strong. I was growing stronger, too, because I am not so sure I would have been able to take just one look my rejection and turned off my computer to go for a run. On Christmas Eve I got a letter from a Jesuit school I had already applied to saying their decision would be withheld until after the arrival of my first semester transcripts. It would have been devastating to me. I would not have filed the letter in my backpack in the corner of my room. I know this has just made me stronger because had someone told me that I would have no single college acceptance in 2013, I would have panicked, but now, I am not.

By Driving Into the Future