Jess - Binghamton University - Class of 2016
Hometown: New York NY
High School: Public
Major: Human development
Goal: Explore new areas of learning
Freshman Year Update
At college, time never seems like an issue. You have no one telling you to go to bed or eat dinner, and it's not uncommon to be up until 4 a.m. talking with friends. The best thing is that learning is always happening, and it's easy to take knowledge to the next level outside of class. For instance, I started writing an op-ed column for the school newspaper. Now I often get approached by fellow students—with praise and criticism—for something I wrote. It's been enormously rewarding! As planned, I am transferring to Cornell next year. Telling my friends was difficult, and the thought of leaving Binghamton haunts me every day. By transferring, I'll be giving up the Opinion Editor post at the newspaper and other leadership opportunities. But going to Cornell is my dream. If anything, I'm glad I had such a good time here that I don't want to leave.
Unlike many applicants, my choices were quite narrow. I didn't have the grades for Columbia or Brown, but I felt confident about my chances at Cornell and Binghamton. If it weren't for the current practice of applying to many schools, I would have only applied to these two!
Upstate New York here I come
From the moment I could speak, I always said I wanted to attend Binghamton. My dad went there and it was one of the first colleges I had ever seen. Then I fell in love with Cornell. It has a gorgeous campus and offered a combination of law, government, history, and statistics—everything I wanted—in one university. Binghamton is not Ivy League, of course, but it also has an incredible amount to offer. The students seemed motivated and challenged, and there were enough academic options to keep me interested. It was also the most familiar of the schools, and the price could not be beat. After applying early decision to Cornell and early action to Binghamton, I applied to a few other schools even though I didn't know much about them.
While I waited for decisions, I spent my time researching my schools. I combed through course listings, researched professors, and read about each school's history. I eventually spoke so fluidly about Cornell that I actually convinced one person that I was a student there. I spent less time trying to predict my outcomes and more time carving out my future at whatever college I ended up attending.
From heartbreak to victory—almost
On December 8, I knew my decision from Cornell was coming at 5 p.m. I spent a few hours playing basketball, trying to get my mind off of what was coming. By 4:50, I was shaking to the point that I could not control my computer mouse. The decision came—I was deferred. About ten minutes later, it hit me. I cried, and cried, and cried.
The letter from Binghamton came about a month later—another deferral. Everyone around me was dumbfounded. My mom, although she will never admit it, began to panic. Almost every friend of mine was accepted to their dream school, and everyone was in somewhere. I was in nowhere, and my next decision wouldn't come for another two months.
By March, the acceptance letters began rolling in: Brandeis, Maryland, Albany. My acceptance to Binghamton came along too. It finally seemed like my luck was turning around. Finally, Ivy Day arrived. It was different this time, knowing that I was going to end up somewhere. I was rejected from Cornell—sort of. They offered me a transfer option. If I obtained a 3.3 GPA at another school during my freshman year, I would be a Cornellian after all. I was elated.
My ups and downs
The day the Common Application was released, I was ready to begin working on it. I felt that the pressure of being rushed would only get in the way of expressing myself on the application. So I started working on my applications long before the deadline, which gave me the chance to do a great job and take my time.
What I didn't find helpful were all the statistics and people telling me I couldn't accomplish what I wanted. I was more than a long shot for Cornell, and many considered it unrealistic for me to even apply.
What I learned
If I learned anything from this process, it is not to be afraid of rejection. It was Robert Kennedy who said, "Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly." I was criticized constantly for putting all my attention towards Cornell and Binghamton. My advice? Do not sacrifice your dreams and settle for another school just because you are afraid.
I also learned that a rejection is by no means a failure. The Cornell sticker I put on my bookshelf after I first visited is still there. My experience with that school, even if I never attend, is so valuable. It taught me a lesson I'll never forget: No denial letter could change who I was. I still spoke the same way, had the same personality—I was still me. It might be that the greatest lessons you learn when applying to college come from the schools you never attend.
The money factor
Fortunately, I will not need to accumulate any debt. I did not receive any financial aid from Binghamton, so my parents will be putting me through school.
Stand strong. With so many friends around you, there will come a point when you feel envious of someone else's situation. That's life, and it's natural. The most liberating feeling I had, however, was hugging my friends and congratulating them. That's what you would want, and that's what being a friend is about.
ROAD TO COLLEGE
Student Stories - 2016
- Ally - Ohio State University - Class of 2016
- Emma - College of William and Mary - Class of 2016
- Jess - Binghamton University - Class of 2016
- Leyth - Pomona College - Class of 2016
- Michael - Northeastern University - Class of 2016
- Molly - Vassar College - Class of 2016
- Shaquilla - Harvard College - Class of 2016
- Tlalli - Yale University - Class of 2016
- Pablo - Amherst College - Class of 2016
- Kathleen - UC Berkeley - Class of 2016
- David - Vanderbilt University - Class of 2016
Student Stories - 2015
- Brenna - Iowa State University - Class of 2015
- Candace - U. of N. Carolina at Chapel Hill - Class of 2015
- Andrew - Penn State University Park - Class of 2015
- Nick - Georgetown University - Class of 2015
- Stephen - University of Pennsylvania - Class of 2015
- Stephanie - Stanford University - Class of 2015
- Jeremy - Boston University - Class of 2015
- Amy - Hillsdale College - Class of 2015
- Maggie - UCLA - Class of 2015
- Joseph - University of Vermont - Class of 2015
Student Stories - 2014
- Alexander - U. of Colorado Boulder - Class of 2014
- Alexandra - Indiana U. Bloomington - Class of 2014
- Gabrielle - Furman University - Class of 2014
- Linda - Grinnell College - Class of 2014
- Mario - Cal Poly Pomona - Class of 2014
- Matt - Carleton College - Class of 2014
- Michael - University of Maryland - Class of 2014
- Monica - Hiram College - Class of 2014
- Obianujo - The College of New Jersey - Class of 2014
- Philip - American University - Class of 2014
- Leslie - Wesleyan University - Class of 2014
Student Stories - 2013
- Jessica - Wellesley College - Class of 2013
- Jason - Univ. of Michigan - Class of 2013
- Daniel - Yale University - Class of 2013
- Melanie - Colby College - Class of 2013
- Anthony - University of Pittsburgh - Class of 2013
- Claire - Johns Hopkins University - Class of 2013
- David - University of Chicago - Class of 2013
- Eric - UC San Diego - Class of 2013
- John - Pomona College - Class of 2013
- Umbar - Cornell University - Class of 2013
- Kira - Swarthmore College - Class of 2013
- Joelle - Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison - Class of 2013
- Mark - Union College - Class of 2013
- Uddit - U.S. Air Force Academy - Class of 2013
- Julia - University of Florida - Class of 2013
- Justin - University of Georgia - Class of 2013
- Stacy - Cal Poly San Luis Obispo - Class of 2013
- Briton - Hobart College - Class of 2013
Student Stories - 2012
- Roy - Calif. Maritime Acad. / UC Irvine - Class of 2012
- Kirsten - Chapman / UC Davis - Class of 2012
- Ashley - Mount Holyoke College - Class of 2012
- Marquis - Princeton University - Class of 2012
- Pauline - Seattle University - Class of 2012
- Sundiata - Univ. of Mass. Amherst - Class of 2012
- James - Villanova University - Class of 2012
Student Stories - 2011
Student Stories - 2010
- Daniela - Bates College - Class of 2010
- Renata - Brown University - Class of 2010
- Megan - Denison University - Class of 2010
- Catlin - Harvard College - Class of 2010
- Catherine - Reed College - Class of 2010
- Matthew - Syracuse University - Class of 2010
- Danielle - UCLA - Class of 2010
- Stephanie - University of Illinois - Class of 2010
- Sam - University of Washington - Class of 2010
- Jeffrey - Washington and Lee Univ. - Class of 2010
Student Stories - 2009
Live Well and Prosper
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