Warrior Words: College is still a potato

As many of you know, I wrote an article back in December entitled College Is a Potato, describing my reaction to being deferred from a university which was, at the time, my dream school. I wish I could tell you the optimistic attitude I expressed was maintained, that the four months leading up to the next round of decisions were all singing Kumbaya whilst dancing on rainbows with some pink fluffy unicorns, but neither was the case.

The last few weeks of December were a scrambled blur of hugging nervous friends, filling out new applications, staying up until ungodly hours in the morning because I was so overwhelmed. College was temporarily put on the back burner as I dragged through January and February, but when March rolled around, the same gnawing anxiety I felt before quickly crept back in.

Everywhere I went, adults began incessantly asking where I was going to school next year, and week after week, I’d reply with an endless chorus of “I don’t knows” and “I’m not sures,” each time growing more impatient and frustrated with the ambiguity of my future. Unfortunately, I had to wait until the very end of the month for the schools I cared about the most, and watching my friends wade through their seas of acceptances and denials was both confusing and terrifying.

Finally, it was March 31st, and at 5:00, I sat beside one of my best friends since kindergarten to open the dreaded application portals. People had been wishing me luck all week, assuring me that I would get into one of the Ivy League schools to which I had applied. “I have such a good feeling!” so many friends and family members told me.

Waitlisted. Rejected. Rejected. That’s not a good feeling.

And this time, yeah, I wasn’t a perfectly poised teenage Buddha. I was mad. Mad that I had taken the SAT three times, worked my keister off in honors and AP classes for years, and spent months crafting the perfect essays only to get sucker-punched in the gut. Mad that all of those tears, venting sessions, and sleepless nights hadn’t given me anything positive. Mad that nothing my senior year was going as I had planned.

But then, I took a step back. For the past few months, I had been someone who I really wasn’t: a snobby narcissist who was fixated on obtaining the coveted Ivy League title to somehow prove to everyone that I was intelligent enough, successful enough, good enough.

My entire high school career, I have been trying to get away from labels, defining people for who they really were and not the materialistic qualities we so often substitute for genuine human appreciation. My mindset towards college had been the reverse: I was categorizing, judging others for the classes they took, universities they applied to, essay topics they selected, putting a tremendous amount of pressure on myself through it all. I can assure you that none of that was beneficial to my development as a student or person.

In the end, I know I made a fantastic decision for me, and it wasn’t a decision based on expectation or brand name. This fall, I will be majoring in global public health and food studies in one of the most exciting cities in the world, meeting new friends from all over whilst rocking college swag in purple, my favorite color. While it may have not been the path I had originally intended, it is a path that I know is going to make me happy, and that’s what really matters, after all.

Though yes, college is still a potato, it is my potato, and I may mash it, smash it, roast it, toast it, bake it, make it whatever I choose it to be. I encourage you to do the same, because really, there are so many wonderful things you can do with potatoes.

Abby Schiff is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with four classmates.