Jess - Binghamton U. / Cornell University - Class of 2016

student photo

If I learned anything from this process, it is not to be afraid of rejection. No denial letter could change who I was. I still spoke the same way, had the same personality—I was still me.

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!

Hometown: New York NY

High School: Public

GPA: 3.7

ACT: 29

Major: Human development

Goal: Explore new areas of learning

College

Status

Binghamton University (EA)Deferred/
Attending
Brandeis UniversityAccepted
Cornell University (ED)Deferred/
Denied
University at AlbanyAccepted
University of MarylandAccepted
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.

Sophomore Year Update

Cornell is a whole different ball game, and it was initially hard to adjust. Everyone is ambitious, fast-paced and willing to have tough, challenging discussions. Their attitude is that not being stressed means you're not pushing yourself hard enough. Sometimes I miss Binghamton's more relaxed attitude.

But even though my classes are difficult, they are going well, and I enjoy the material being covered. Outside the classroom, I have taken on positions at The Huffington Post, a local radio station, and a student group called J Street U. Now I wake up every day not knowing who I will meet or what difficult hurdle I will have to jump. It makes each day more rewarding than the last.

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.

My advice

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.

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