Episode 3: Waiting… The Ups and Downs of College Applications

Percy’s Lessons to be Learned

  • Read your whole acceptance letter and/or all of your student portal notifications.
  • Information sessions are very useful, especially when you live across the country from the school.
  • Acceptance letters come in many forms, none of which are an actual letter
  • Colleges like to send you free swag after your acceptance, mostly stickers.
  • You will be very excited about your first acceptance, and may act like it’s always been your first choice, even if it’s your safety and/or Rutgers (I did this, but for a different school)
  • Anyone who says senior year is easier than junior year is LYING, but this might just depend on your classes

  • January 18th, 2023

    Y’all. I’m going to college.

    I was laying on my bed watching an episode of Reservation Dogs, and I decided to check my phone, and by extension my email. When I opened my email, I saw an email from Oregon State University saying that an admissions decision or application status update was posted- so I decided to go investigate. When I opened it, I found a dancing beaver in a football jersey (their mascot,) confetti, and the phrase, “Dear Percival: Congratulations, you’ve been admitted to Oregon State University.

    As soon as I saw this, I bounded down the stairs and told my parents. My mother’s reaction was, I quote, “MY BABY’S GOING TO COLLEGE!” Thanks, mom. My father on the other hand was like, “Yay. They must like you a lot then to hear back so soon. This is a good sign for your other applications.” Always looking forward, aren’t you, dad. And then we called both my grandmothers. Getting into college is really turning out to be a family affair. It’s a whole party now.

    On my side of things, let me say, first of all I am shocked that the decision came so soon. I sent my application in eighteen days ago. That is some express mail. Second of all- it’s wild that I’m going to college now. At least one place wanted me, so I’m not a complete failure. I’m going to be an educated man. I’m still reeling from the shock. This really burst my bubble on what I thought this episode was going to be. I thought most of it was going to be my being anxious about “what if I don’t get into college?” Well turns out, I was wrong. Big slay on my part, and Oregon State’s part.

    However, what is not a big slay on Oregon State’s part, is the number I saw on the 2022-23 expected non-resident undergraduate cost of attendance tab: $52,662 per year.


    Update: Twenty minutes later…

    I was a little stupid and caught up in the moment that I didn’t even look to see that they also updated my financial aid part of my application… and guess what… they gave me a $12,000 scholarship with my acceptance, which is renewable for three more years. That’s $48,000 total as long as I keep my grades up, which in sum would cover almost an entire year of school, or most of my housing cost each year, depending on how you look at it. And this doesn’t even include the 112 possible scholarships that they offer that I could apply to separately. That $52,662 is looking a little less yikes. Maybe I’m a little too excited.

    My acceptance letter. It’s got the beaver and me both dancing.

    Thursday, January 19th, 2023

    I think it’s good that I got accepted into a good school, at least for my major, with a good scholarship first. Now, I feel like if I get rejected from any other school, it’s going to hurt a lot less, because at least I got in somewhere I want to go.

    Update: *9 hours later*

    I just finished attending an information session from Oregon State University’s College of Agricultural Science (where my major, botany, is located,) which was very conveniently scheduled the day after I received my acceptance letter. There was one other person on the zoom call who was not a “Student Ambassador” for the college who was a pre-veterinary person. The lack of other people felt a little awkward, to be honest. The session, however, was not without use. I knew Oregon State had a pretty good botany major to start with (I learned this thanks to Ms. Sudfield’s AP Gov project on government jobs, and mine happened to be on a plant pathology research position for the Department of Agriculture based in the Corvallis campus.) But what I did not know was how massive of a major it was within the school, and that they claim one of the best botany and horticulture programs in the United States with a very high level of research in the field.

    From my own research, I also learned that OSU offers credited classes in things such as wilderness first aid, mountaineering, backpacking, canyoning, ect. It’s the only school that I’ve come across that has classes like this, and as a person who absolutely loves hiking and nature and camping and all that jazz, I think that’s awesome. Overall, I’m kind of excited about them, and my parents and I are discussing visiting them over spring break, since we only briefly drove through them last time we were in Oregon for a college visit. We’ll see if the buzz lasts until May 1st, or if it fades with time.

    And while we’re on the topic of colleges in Oregon, I sent in my first scholarship applications tonight. University of Oregon, the other school in Oregon I applied to (the one that wanted a portfolio,) sent me an email earlier this month inviting me to apply to the scholarships they offer. I logged on today, filled the application out in about half an hour – no essays required – and sent it off. Easier than pie. I’ve got words about a few other scholarship applications I started writing five bajillion essays for, though.

    January 24th, 2023

    HOLY…[editor’s note: “moly” or “cow” is perfectly acceptable here]

    When Oregon State notified me of my admission to their school, “Admissions Decision or Application Status Update” was the subject of the email they sent me (which required me to log on to their portal to see what it even was.)

    A few minutes ago, I opened up my email and saw that Pratt Institute took a different approach and decided to send me an email with the subject line “Congratulations on Your Admission to Pratt Institute!,” which appeared right at the top of my inbox. I nearly dropped my phone. No hate to either school, but they’re really messing up my plan to record my reactions to my admissions decisions for these episodes.

    And then I nearly dropped my phone again when I saw that they gave me an $88,000 scholarship ($22,000 over four years.) Which now, actually, makes the price of the school reasonable (Yay! Private schools being obscenely expensive! Part of why I didn’t apply to Ivies!)

    Similar to Oregon State, they got back to me really quickly. I submitted my application on January 1st and then my portfolio on the 3rd, so it only took them 21 days to decide, which is really, really quick, considering UC Berkeley won’t tell me if I got in until around April 1st and their deadline was back in November.

    Unlike Oregon State, which is on the other side of the country, I can actually go visit Pratt Institute next weekend, because it’s conveniently located in Brooklyn. Also unlike Oregon State, I would go to Pratt Institute for industrial design, not biology, because they’re art only. At Oregon State, I would only really go for their biology.

    Wednesday, January 25th, 2023

    So apparently University of Washington sent my parents an email about financial aid they can do, while UW finishes reading the over 62,000 applications they received this year, which is a new record. I think I’m going to get rejected now, which [stinks] because UW is my first choice. They generally take about 13,500 freshmen a year. That’s going to be a 21% acceptance rate this year based on these statistics, if they don’t increase their class size. Most of those applicants are probably Washington State residents too, which means they get priority over out-of-staters like me. All this means I need to take my hopes down a whole lot of notches, and stop telling myself to “picture yourself living in Seattle in seven months” whenever I get fed up with something on PHS, or “this is what the weather will be like all the time when you’re living in Seattle,” whenever it’s gray or rainy (which due to global warming has happened a lot recently.)

    Friday, January 27th, 2023

    Rutgers sent out a bunch of Early Action decisions today. I didn’t get one, since I applied for regular decision (it’s supposedly coming on February 28th.) Everyone I know who applied to Rutgers early action got in. I did hear that one person, whom I do not know, got differed, but Rutgers did say that they’d differ people if they got too many applications than they could read in time for the EA date, which they already pushed back because of too many applications. Apparently the Rutgers decision was just a bunch of logging into various portals before seeing either ACCEPTED or NOT ACCEPTED and nothing else. But I also heard that they sent the decision through a nice little email. The cons of having unreliable sources, or perhaps the cons of applying to Rutgers and all of its strangeness. We’ll find out when I get my acceptance in a month.

    Sunday, January 29th, 2023

    On Friday, I forgot to mention I sent out my first scholarship application. Nothing special, just maybe a small chance of winning $10,000 for school and a few essays.

    Today, I finished writing another essay for a different scholarship, and I’ll probably start and/or finish a few more. I’m not really taking these scholarship essays with the same seriousness I took my actual college essays because what’s the worst that could happen? I don’t get money from one person or organization? I’ll still most likely have to take out a loan anyway, a nice scholarship would make it hurt just a little bit less.

    Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

    It’s really wild to think that by the end of March, which is two months from now, I’ll have heard back from all of my schools. And within a month I’ll probably hear back from three or four schools. It feels like everything’s going really fast.

    Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

    So apparently colleges do still send physical acceptance letters, since Oregon State sent me my letter plus a bunch of pieces of paper with nice photos of campus on them with important information about housing and my major on them, and a massive beaver sticker for my car. No shirt though, I am a little sad about that. The letter was actually different than my original acceptance letter online. This one was all personalized and was like “it’s a long way from New Jersey to Corvallis,” and talked specifically about all the things my major program has to offer. I feel so special.

    All the fun little papers, stickers and postcards OSU sent me.
    The guidebook they sent me about how to get housing, fun things to do, informing me they’re all about diversity and being sustainable, and why I should attend.
    The back of this paper told me to take a photo with it and post it to social media to tell everyone I got in. One could argue these episodes are a form of social media. #BEAVERNATION

    Tuesday, February 7th, 2023

    Oregon State sent me more stickers! I am going to stick them nowhere because if I go someplace else and my laptop says Go Beavs! then that’d be weird!

    In other news, they also sent me an email saying I could give them my housing preferences without committing so I did that. They’ve got these things called Living and Learning Communities where everyone you live with is into learning about a specific thing, so for example I was really interested in the Outdoors Adventure community because this community has a lot of group outdoors events and we’d all take a bunch of required classes in the Outdoors for credit, that I’d take regardless of where I lived. They also have these special interest communities, such as an ROTC community and a pride community. I marked down the pride community, but second to the outdoors one because I’d have a 2/3 chance of being put into an “economy triple,” which brings me to my next comment.

    I refuse to live in a triple or quad room. I’m an only child. I’ve never had to share a room, clothes, or parental affection- having one roommate is going to be a big change. But having two or three roommates? I don’t think my privileged little self could handle that. Plus, my mom visibly cringed when I told her I have a high chance of triple-ing, and said she didn’t understand how anyone could focus in those conditions. And I saw photos. The economy triple looks like a cramped horror story nightmare. Thankfully, the Outdoors community only has double rooms.

    It’s also interesting to note that by getting back to me so early I’ve become really invested into Oregon State. While other schools have been deciding whether they want me or not, Oregon’s been like “Come sign up for housing!” I think if OSU got back to me in March, rather than mid-January like all my other schools (besides Pratt,) I would not be shouting “GO BEAVS! HASHTAG BEAVER NATION BABY!” all of the time and acting like it’s always been my first choice. It’s just the school that got back to me first.

    Stickers from Oregon that will go on exactly (0) water bottles.
    Part of the “economy triple” horror story. Please ignore my dirty computer screen, it’s supposed to add to the nightmare dorm room aesthetic.

    Thursday, January 9th, 2023

    It’s been the longest, most exhausting week in my entire high school experience. I’ve had two tests, one quiz, and I have another test tomorrow, in addition to the late night I had on Monday at a track meet at The Armory and state sectionals I have in two days. Every little minute of free time I’ve had this week so far was spent on working on scholarship applications. Doing my dorm room assignment preferences earlier in the week was me procrastinating on editing essays. You would think since midyear grades have been finalized I would allow myself to slip into senioritis. Unfortunately, the only classes that give me work are my APs, which I actually want to learn the material for since I aim to get straight fives on my exams. You might also think that I’m happy that I knew early that I’m going to college- well, it’s been way too long since anyone has told me that they’re ecstatic to admit me to their program (it’s been two weeks,) and I’m ready for the next college to profess-or their love for me. The next scheduled date for this is at very soonest, February 14th, and hopefully UC Santa Cruz will be my valentine (watch them ghost me.)

    Circling back for a moment, this January and February has honestly been worse for me than the January-Spring break slump of Junior year, and that’s a difficult feat to top. I might be voluntarily making my senior year harder for me but I don’t care- senior year is worse than junior year.

    *Not even thirty minutes later*

    Bruh… why do colleges keep ruining the depressed anxious vibe I wanted for this article. Half an hour ago I was complaining about how it’d been too long since I’d gotten an acceptance letter and I was going to run with that for a few more entries- and then BAM! The University of Oregon has updated your decision status on the student portal.

    On the bright side, I can now take a victory lap around Hayward Field since I’ve been accepted into University of Oregon. They also gave me a $10,000 a year scholarship, so I’m three for three when it comes to free money. Go Ducks!

    When I applied to U of O last month, you may remember that I applied to their product design major, which has a separate admissions process. They have not decided if I’m worthy enough for that. I guess I need to keep praying to Mr. Phil Knight, the god of University of Oregon’s product design department’s funding to let me in. Go Ducks!

    I definitely have less hype around U of O than I do Oregon State, but I still have a lot more than Pratt. Ironically, the price difference between Pratt and University of Oregon with both scholarships applied is not very large, but Oregon is *slightly* cheaper. Oregon State is still the cheapest by a lot. Go Ducks? Or Go Beavers? Mom, the pond is fighting over me.

    Speaking of parents, my father is thrilled that I got into the University of Oregon. When we visited the campus last year, he was obsessed with it, and by obsessed I mean, the man will not stop talking about if he toured University of Oregon when he applied to college, he would have gone there. He also likes the colors, yellow and green. Go Ducks!

    *If you’re wondering why I keep saying Go Ducks!, when I toured U of O, I was informed that if you yell Go Ducks! anywhere on campus someone will yell Go Ducks! back at you. I did test this rumor out. Two students walking by me yelled Go Ducks! back. So, Go Ducks!

    Monday, February 13th, 2023

    I received an email tonight from Emory University (remember them?) telling me that they will tell me if I am an Emory Scholars finalist on February 15th at 6 pm eastern standard time or later that evening. I am really trying to keep up my “I’m rejected until proven accepted” mentality, but it’s just so hard because my ego keeps getting in the way, and I feel like I am way to hopeful that I’m one of 100-200 students out of a school with a 13% acceptance rate who *might* get a full ride scholarship. It’s even more ridiculous that I don’t even want to go there that much. So, yeah, I’m a little anxious.

    Tuesday, February 14th, 2023

    I followed the Instagram accounts of OSU and University of Oregon. University of Oregon is very active on the ‘gram, and it snowed last night in Eugene and they’re sharing a bunch of photos of it. Oregon State on the other hand, has the aesthetic look that every influencer aspires to have; the colors of the campus in the photographs match the season and the campus looks beautiful, but they’re definitely a lot less active than the Ducks.

    Also, OSU sent me a little Valentine’s Day card-email. It was cute. It has a gif of their mascot with little popping hearts.I feel so wanted and appreciated, unlike Cal Poly, who have ghosted me ever since they received my application back in October.

    Wednesday, January 15th, 2023

    4 p.m Eastern Standard Time

    Two hours until I learn if I’m taking a field trip down to Georgia. I’m probably not. I’m still trying to curb my enthusiasm by saying that so I won’t be disappointed when I’m not selected for Emory Scholars.

    6:08 p.m. Eastern Standard time

    Letters for Emory Scholars are being sent out right now. I am not looking in my email right now. I will wait a few hours before doing it so that I won’t be anxiously checking every minute waiting for it to come.

    6:22 p.m. Eastern Standard Time

    Not checking my email is harder than I thought. Some people have a habit of obsessively checking social media, turns out I have a bad habit of obsessively checking my email. Like I just open my email if I’m bored for two seconds, and I’ve had multiple close calls in the last 15 minutes. Maybe this is a good thing, and I’ll have a detox from my email.

    Thursday, February 16th, 2023

    Okay I want to know why I was rejected. They said they had 11,000 applicants, and they only select about 100-200 to come to campus as finalists, and most of us who applied to the program are competitive students. At this point, what even becomes the selection criteria? Was I rejected because my GPA is 96 and not a 99? Did they not like my essays? Did I not do enough community service or do they think I didn’t care about all of the activities I put down? My friend has a theory that prestigious schools with low acceptance rates choose a bunch of applications that they like and then randomly choose who gets accepted, because when there’s 11,000 very good students applying for 100 spots,the traditional acceptance criteria just doesn’t make sense to use.

    To clear things up, I can still get into Emory, but it won’t be on a full ride scholarship. Which means I probably won’t go, since it’s too expensive.

    Saturday, February 18th, 2023

    I think the worst thing about feeling the sting of a rejection that isn’t actually a real rejection is now that I’m doubting the strength of my applications. I have no faith in any of them to begin with, but it’s a new kind of absence of faith, because now I know that it could actually happen. It’s particularly unnerving for me because I’m applying to all of the schools that my parents went to, and if I get rejected, I feel like it’s going to hurt worse than a rejection from anywhere else. I’m afraid that if I tell them I’m rejected from the schools they went to, they’re going to take that kind of “I’m sorry you couldn’t live up to our expectations and what we were able to do at your age” pity on me. That’s the worst kind of pity a parent can give to their child, in a world where the younger generation is expected to be better than their parents.

    Tuesday, February 21st, 2023

    I got into Rutgers this morning at 7:05 AM. They sent the most underwhelming email I have ever received. Get some flair Rutgers, at least send the Scarlet Knight or some confetti. The email subject was “Activate or Verify Your NetID,” and it took me a minute to even realize that it was an admissions decision, because it was so vaguely worded. The only indication that it was an acceptance was a singular “congratulations!” and the rest of the email was telling me how to set up my NetID. I didn’t even get the fun “You’re admitted” header that other people I know got on their email. At least Oregon State sent the Beaver and I got confetti from Pratt.

    They also didn’t tell me which schools I got into. I had to log on to community ID to figure that out. I managed to get into the School Arts and Sciences (SAS) and the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS,) but I’m still awaiting a decision from Mason Gross.

    Update: 1:05 PM

    Rutgers did send me an acceptance email with the “YOU’RE IN!” banner, just a few hours later. Still no word from Mason Gross. Also, a bunch of people got into Rutgers today. Must have been a mass decision send-out date. I put them into my little cost of college spreadsheet and they’re looking kind of sexy, thank you father for your Rutgers Employment.

    Update: 1:40 PM

    Rutgers calls their dining plans the “Magic Food Card.” It is a magic food card. Even if I’ve heard many complaints about Brower dining hall making the “Magic Food Card” very unmagical.

    *4 hours later*

    My physical letter from Pratt Institute came today, a month later than I was accepted. They sent it to me in a nice folder too.

    Wednesday, February 23rd, 2023

    Last night my mom informed me that I need to make a calendar of my accepted students days and times that I can take campus tours so we can plan spring break visits to west coast schools. Yeah, it’s not looking pretty. Oregon State’s accepted students days are full already, so I had to settle for a regular campus tour plus a Natural Sciences tour, which they only have on Monday/Wednesday. Then, on Friday, University of Oregon has one of their accepted students days, called Duck Days, which I signed up for. On Saturday, University of Washington has their admitted students day, which means immediately after the Duck Day ends, we need to truck four and a half hours up to Seattle to make their accepted student day. Unfortunately, on the same day as UW’s accepted students day is UC Davis’ Picnic Day, and UC Santa Cruz’s slug day, which is their accepted students day, if I get in there. This [stinks], because UW, Santa Cruz and Davis are all top 5 schools for me.

    Rutgers on the other hand, has absolutely no tours available that I wouldn’t have to skip school for, which really isn’t an issue for me. I already know what all the buildings are, the best and worst places to eat on campus (Best: Qdoba, Stuff yer Face, the Knight Wagon, or pretty much anything on Livingston, Worst: Brower dining hall,) the hidden gems like $8 movie tickets at Rutgers cinema, mountain biking in the ecological preserve, Passion Puddle, and the fort I helped build in Helyar Woods at Rutgers Gardens. I already know about how Rutgers loses all its football games because my parents set up chairs in our backyard during games so we can listen to the game instead of paying $100+, and that the Marxist club is run by a guy named Mark. I might end up going to the open house or Rutgers Day, though.

    Update: 10:53 PM

    I’ve registered for University of Oregon Housing, because they’re smart and let me register for housing without committing. I also like their living habitat preferences selection better than OSU. At OSU there were three options for room cleanliness- Very clean, some items strewn about, or messy. At UO, I was able to select a more accurate description of my bedroom- mostly clean, but sometimes it gets messy, and I got to say that I generally clean once a week. I really don’t want a messy roommate, but I also don’t want a roommate who’ll get mad at me during finals when I’ve got a bunch of notebooks and paint on the floor since I didn’t have time to clean. Also at UO, they asked me what my opinion on alcohol use was, I’m guessing to gauge if I will get mad at my roommate for partying so hard, that it’s illegal, which was interesting, and might say something significant about the school’s party culture.

    Saturday, February 25th, 2023

    I was cleaning out my desk and found the pamphlet my father got for me from University of Wisconsin-Madison’s visitor center (he had a meeting there) during the phase he had in my Junior year where he tried really hard to get me interested in applying there.

    I also found my information book I got from UW and my campus map from when I visited the Seattle campus during spring break of last year. Wild to think that was almost a year ago, and might be accepted soon.

    I also found the folder I got from University of Oregon when I toured them, also on spring break last year, complete with postcards and a cutout of “The Duck.”

    Lastly, I found the notebook that Rochester Institute of Technology gave me when I visited them ages ago. They tried really hard to get me to apply to them, it was kind of pathetic- I got like daily emails begging me to apply and they extended their application deadline for me twice. They didn’t really get the message, but the notebook was nice.

    Monday, February 27th, 2023

    Your boy is now a Banana Slug now (I got accepted to UC Santa Cruz.) It’s actually a huge achievement on my part, because it’s notoriously hard for out-of-state students to get accepted into University of California schools. It’s being treated like I got into an Ivy League or something right now at my house. And it is like an Ivy League, with the very unclear cost of attendance that I’ve deciphered. It’s either $70,000 a year or $55,000, and that’s a very big difference. I’ll figure it out later. For some reason too, every time I’ve eaten Japanese food, I’ve gotten an acceptance letter. It happened with Oregon State, and now with UCSC. I didn’t think much of it the first time around, but twice is just strange.

    But yeah, I think UC Santa Cruz is currently my top choice (it was in the top 5 when I started,) even if the price is definitely jarring. My parents are happy, my family out there is really happy, and I really did like the campus and its programs. I could go into more detail right now, but I really need to study for my calculus quiz tomorrow.

    Bonus section: Their acceptance email had their mascot, the banana slug clapping. It’s kind of goofy. It’s goofy as he[ck].

    Me in my UC Santa Cruz sunglasses

    Tuesday, February 28th, 2023

    I opened my email tonight to see that I have been selected for the UC Santa Cruz Honors college. Big win. In their information about the Honors College they said that only 250 students are chosen per freshman class, and if this isn’t a massive ego boost for me- I don’t know what is. It’s actually a really sweet deal too- honors students get first pick of classes and they are guaranteed research positions. And the extra classes you have to take don’t even look hard, and one of them is a research position for a quarter, which I would have done anyways.

    The cost of UC Santa Cruz is actually $70,000- I checked at other UC campuses to see their costs and it’s about the same, which [stinks]. But however, it seems to look like they don’t give out scholarships until they declare financial aid eligibility, so I still might get a scholarship from them- and honors college students tend to get scholarships from the school they’ve been given honors for.

    Wednesday, March 1st, 2023

    It’s officially open season on college decisions. I’m waiting to hear back from 7 places now, within the next four weeks. My UW decision could come in any day now. My incessant email checking was bad before, but now it’s just going to get a lot worse.

    7:05 PM

    I need someone to tell me to stop checking my email every five minutes as if UW was going to send me my decision on the first day of a 15 day window. It’s become a problem.

    Thursday, March 2nd, 2023

    I just got an email from UW, and they’re pushing back admissions notifications for everyone until March 9th. Hopefully my email checking habit will disappear in that timeframe.

    Sunday, March 5th, 2023

    I was selling at a vendor fair today run by the Rutgers radio station and Rutgers is more appealing when I looked at it from a student perspective rather than a Piscataway resident or child of a Rutgers employee. I can definitely say I’ve never been in a room with so many nose piercings before. Selling to my left was the self-described “socialist Ron Swanson” selling hand carved spoons and instruments majoring in Environmental Policy. To my right was an Astrophysics major selling rubber ducky earrings. I saw a lot of people dressed similar to me too. And Livingston campus looked nicer too, and more college-y, the more I pretended that I was a Rutgers student, and not some local high schooler. And no one thought I wasn’t a Rutgers student.

    I think the takeaway is Rutgers isn’t as horrible of a place as my Piscataway resident bias wants it to be, because being an actual student is much different from being an observer. It’s also making me rethink what I’ve seen on tours, because when I’ve visited other campuses, I’ve just been an observer, not a high schooler going undercover to sell stickers. I think if I end up on future campus tours I should go out on my own for a bit and pretend to be an actual student there, and see what it’s like.

    Thursday, March 9th, 2023

    It’s the first day of University of Washington decision week. I am less stressed than when I thought decisions were coming out last week, but they still unsettlingly linger at the back of my mind. I haven’t obsessively checked my email yet, because at the moment my common sense is prevailing, as it’s 6 AM in New Jersey and UW is obviously not going to send out its decisions at 3 AM.

    Update: 6:26 PM

    I’ve gotten no word from UW yet, but I DID GET INTO UO’S PRODUCT DESIGN PROGRAM! You know, the one that only takes 45 students per graduating class which translates into only 30 incoming freshman admissions. Mr. Phil Knight, the god of UO has answered my prayers. My letter came in the form of a PDF attachment to an email, so I was preparing for a rejection letter, but it was not. I think it was a standard letter they sent to everyone, but I think that when they wrote that they were “impressed by [my] application, preparation, and interests,” they were specifically talking about me.

    *ten minutes later*

    There were two large envelopes waiting for me when I got home from UO and Rutgers. Rutgers was boring, I got a letter and a sticker. UO on the other hand gave me a sticker and confetti that has wildflower seeds in it, so that I can celebrate by growing some flowers.

    Friday, March 10th, 2023

    I was [disappointingly] waitlisted. Like, how do I get into an honors program with a 0.3% acceptance rate and a super selective major program at two different schools but not a school with a [gosh-darn] 44% out of state acceptance rate? UW literally sent my decision at 12:04 AM so I woke up to the email and now I have no idea what I’m going to do. And they didn’t outright reject me either, so I can’t feel that bad about it. I literally had just woken up from a nightmare where I was rejected from UW too. Apollo’s out there giving me the gift of prophecy on the worst day possible, huh. Not my morning.

    You know what, watch me. Watch me get into Berkeley or UCLA or Emory. But not UW because they’re stupid and don’t know what they’re missing.

    Update: 8:36 AM

    The more I think about it, the more I’m fine with not getting in. One, it makes my decision easier. Two, while I saw people dressed like me when I visited UW, at Santa Cruz I saw people rappel off of a bridge over a ravine, which I would also do for fun and I can take Kelp forest ecology which require me to learn to scuba dive because labs are in an actual kelp forest. I can’t do that at UW. Plus, Santa Cruz has a Nobel prize for decoding the Human Genome, and UW does not, so technically Santa Cruz is more prestigious for my major than UW.

    Update 10:41 am

    I read somewhere that I should view my waitlisting as they liked my application, but they just didn’t have space, and that waitlisting has become more common. It sort of makes me feel better, but at the same time not really. It just feels so random and I am still disappointed and sad no matter how much I try to get over it.

    Update: 12:20 pm

    Now I’m just not confident in any of my other applications now. I’m starting to think I’m not going to get into any more places. All my remaining schools are on the selective side, and all my “safeties” have already told me if they want me. I thought UW was a safety. I was wrong. Maybe that was on me for thinking that. And I just read that UC Davis is had 94,000 applicants and they’re only taking an expected class of 9,400. I’m not going to get in, I’m forcing my brain to stop fantasizing about getting an acceptance email. Everytime my brain goes there, I switch my daydream to getting a rejection or a waitlist, because maybe it won’t sting as much as UW did.

    Update: 7:15 pm

    I’m going to [super-duper] picnic day at UC Davis, because the subject of my most recently received email says “Congratulations Percival, You’re an Aggie!” My mother now has a photo of me sitting next to my dad and she has titled it “Two generations of Aggies on a sofa.” UC Davis had 94,000 applicants, and I was one of the students selected to fill 9,400 slots. University of Washington doesn’t know what they’re missing. Your boy has gotten into two of my top four schools so far. So now, I’m going to Picnic Day, which is essentially UC Davis’s version of Rutgers Day, but with dachshund races and a parade and a lot more bicycles, and my father and I cannot wait.

    Update: 9:58 PM

    I think Mr. Lojko is going to make me take out a bunch of the little redactions in my writing, [editor’s note: Yes. Yes, I am] because I’ve had a lot recently, but truth to be told I have screamed out the phrase “HOLY [bananas], and jumped off of my chair twice today, and I think I need to be honest about my reactions. If you’re wondering why I’ve screamed out “HOLY [guacamole]” and jumped out of my chair for a second time today, it’s because I have just been accepted into Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Like I said, look what you’re missing University of Washington. And Cal Poly is really hard to get into too. I may have gotten into some crazy acceptance rate programs recently, but Cal Poly is on another level for a different reason. If you can’t remember all the way back to Episode 1, Cal Poly only makes their decisions based on my grades. I submitted zero essays, and the only time I was asked about extracurriculars was to say how many hours I do them per week- they didn’t even want to know what they were. Plus, Cal Poly only takes a very specific amount of students per major, you declare your major on the application, and they judge you based on the other candidates applying to that major, and no programs take more than 100 students according to what I’ve seen on the internet, and it’s a really prestigious school for architecture and engineering. I am a plant science major there, for clarification. It’s really been a rollercoaster of a day for me. Wild bro, wild.

    Update: 10:47 PM

    Do you know what’s also great about UC Davis? They released all of their decisions at once. And with that, they’ve made a whole social media campaign to welcome and inform all of their newly accepted students, and so now I’m watching Instagram reels about how their meal plans work and the Campus Tour Guides brainstorming how to welcome new students, and they’re funny. That was so genius of them, it’s a whole big celebration and now all accepted students are celebrating together and it’s a thing. All the other schools I’ve heard back from don’t do this, and it doesn’t feel as exciting or special. They even are giving me a lawn sign.

    Monday, March 13th, 2023

    A small box came in the mail from University of Oregon, and inside of it was a mini Duck VR headset and instructions on how to do a 360 degree virtual tour of campus. I feel like I should channel the inner influencer in me and check it out for the sake of the article, but I’ve got a feeling it’s going to give me a headache when I try to use it. I gave it to my Dad. He’ll have fun.

    Tuesday, March 14th, 2023
    I got my fun envelope from UCSC today. It included a fancy looking certificate of my acceptance on the back of my acceptance letter, and a paper banana slug headband for when I announce my commitment on social media. The headband also had a fun fact on it too- a group of slugs is called a cornucopia.

    Update: 7:45 PM

    Well University of Oregon just increased my scholarship from $10,000 a year to $15,000 a year. That was nice of them.

    In other news, my father has gotten really into the rabbit hole of YouTube reviews of colleges I’ve been accepted to and now he’s binge watching them like they’re episodes of Stranger Things on the Apple TV. I think he’s more excited than me.

    Update: 10:14 pm

    I previously had my decisions for Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences and School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (I got into both,) but I was still waiting on Mason Gross. I am no longer waiting on Mason Gross in the same sense now, because I have been *waitlisted!* But this time, I actually don’t care, since I’m not going to Rutgers. I’m not even bothering to opt-in for the waitlist. I’ll let someone else have their chance.

    Wednesday, March 15th, 2023

    So, I’ve been trying to hold off on talking about any of the post-acceptance research I’ve done on my schools, because I wanted to save that for next episode, but this tidbit cannot wait. Cal Poly has a competitive intercollegiate Rodeo team, and I think that’s so cool. Granted, I have never ridden a horse, and I have no intent to in the future, but it’s so unique and cool. I’d totally go watch a rodeo, and plus it seems like since I’m part of the Agriculture college, a lot of the team members are going to be my classmates (a similar phenomenon to many football players becoming business, communications, or kinesiology majors it seems.)

    Thursday, March 16th, 2023

    UC Santa Cruz gave me a $10,000 a year scholarship, which is really nice of them considering their tuition costs more than most houses ten years ago. Makes me want to shout their school’s rally cry “No Known Predators!” from the top of the roof.

    Friday, March 17th, 2023

    People on the internet seem to believe that UCLA is releasing their decisions today. It’s 100% a rumor based on crumbs on speculation based on what I’ve seen, but still, I can’t wait to get rejected later today from a school I don’t really care about.

    Update: 7:35

    Not for UCLA, but I did just get waitlisted from UC San Diego. Now I’m out of my favorite hoodie, which was a UCSD hoodie. Yay! Fun! I’m totally not sad I didn’t get validation from being accepted into a prestigious school. But this is all completely fine with me because I learned today that UC Santa Cruz appears on the AP Bio exam, since I have to know about the Human Genome Project- Go Banana Slugs!

    Anyways, I think most places if you get rejected/waitlisted, they make you log into their portal to see your decision, and they’ll tell you directly in an email. And I also noticed as a little red flag that I was going to either be waitlisted or rejected was the fact that they signed off their email with “Best regards, UC San Diego Admissions.” That’s not something you’d probably say to an admitted student. I’m going to pull on my AP Lang skills from last year for a second- the tone of “Best regards,” is a formal, curt goodbye, it’s what you say to someone you’ve just finished a multimillion dollar business transaction with and will never see again. It’s literally something you say to a person you have just formally rejected too, but aren’t going to be mean about it, because you really didn’t want to reject them but you had to.

    I think that the first “rejection” hurts worst. I’m indifferent to my waitlisting to San Diego, but I wouldn’t stop crying the morning UW waitlisted me, and I liked those two schools almost equally. I’m more sad that I can’t wear my really soft UCSD hoodie than the fact that I’m not going there.

    Update: 10:27 pm

    After relentless email checking for the past five hours, and getting absolutely no word from UCLA, I decided to manually go in and look, unsure of if I would even see anything if I went into the portal. I went in, and I’m not mad at all that I was rejected, I’m mad because they didn’t even have the decency to notify me that my decision was posted. I wanted to get rejected, I’m thrilled actually. I didn’t want to go there, but I applied for some unknown reason, and if I got in I’d be annoyed that I had to make another decision. And I’m also happy that they flat out rejected me too- I’m not going to be strung along all summer like UW and UC San Diego are doing to me. They were very nice in the letter too, it was well written, which almost makes up for the fact that they rudely didn’t notify me.

    Monday, March 20th, 2023

    I’ve just been invited to apply to the Cal Poly Honors program. In order to join, first you must be invited to apply, then you have to write two 500 word essays, and you may or may not get in (only about 20% of those invited get in.) I might apply because I want academic validation.

    Tuesday, March 21st, 2023

    I got my UC Davis swag envelope today. Very nice, very nice.

    Thursday, March 23rd, 2023

    It’s really annoying to see someone else get into your top choice. There’s two people at least, who got into UCSD from PHS. Not waitlisted, got in. I don’t know anyone who got into UW from PHS, but instagram tried to recommend their admitted students page to me. I have a feeling, if I was an in-state student, I would have gotten into UCSD or UW instead of being waitlisted. But unfortunately, I’m stuck with Rutgers, a school I’m completely uninterested in, who wouldn’t even give me the honors program. I just feel inadequate. I’ve always thought that I was a good student, but I guess I’m just not good enough. I’m almost there, but I’m not. I’m trying to be happy with what I have, I’m lucky and I’ve achieved a lot, but it’s hard to come so close and get pushed to the side.

    Update : 8 pm

    Davis happened to be holding a walking tour over Tiktok and Instagram live last night and I saw it going on when I opened up Instagram so I joined. It was hosted by two, really cheerful tour guides. The campus was really pretty, I’ve only ever been to Davis in the summer so I’ve never seen it that green before. They’re also apparently the number one most sustainable university, and fifth most sustainable in the world- and they’re on track to be completely carbon neutral by my sophomore year, I think. That’s cool of them. Also, the chancellor joined in the livestream chat. He seems great. They have this arboretum, called Putah Creek, which has tons of wildlife on campus, and in the chat the chancellor was talking about how he loved to see the squirrels around there and sometimes an otter, and how his wife likes the turtles. He would also write “SQUIRREL!” in the chat anytime one came on screen. He seems to be everywhere, and really loved by the students. He’s in their TikTok’s, he’s down for a photo if you see him around campus, and he’s even got his own little video series called “Where May the chancellor be?” His name is chancellor May. Like, he seems like he actually really cares about his students, and I really like that, unlike at certain other colleges I applied to *cough* Rutgers *cough* Holloway* cough.

    Monday, March 27th, 2023

    It’s only five days until the last decisions come out. Five days until the judgment is done. Five days until Ivy Day, for those who celebrate. It’s weird how it’s so close to ending, and then my month of deliberation starts. And once that month’s done, I’ve got nothing left to do except graduate. Most of my classes that actually give me work are AP, so by the time I decide, I’ll be done, and coasting until graduation. And now that seems so close. It’s strange how time went so quickly to me this year.

    I’ve probably gotten all the acceptances I’m going to get. Emory is a bit of a wildcard, but Berkeley is very much a long shot. Plus, even if I get into Emory, I can’t go. A few days ago the governor signed a law banning gender affirming care for trans youth, meaning Georgia is no longer a safe state for me, which [stinks] because I actually really was considering Emory if I got in. He just had to do it right before decisions came out didn’t he.

    Update: 6:55 PM

    Emory has informed me that my decision will be posted at 6 PM Eastern Standard Time on March 29th. I’m a little nervous. I don’t even know why, it’s two days before.

    Tuesday, March 28th, 2023

    I’m starting to collect a little list of colleges I’m regretting not applying to. Currently it contains:

    • UC Santa Barbara
    • UC Irvine
    • USC
    • San Diego State University
    • Stanford
    • Every public school in the state of Colorado

    UCSB and UCI are on there because I kind of wish I had them as options. I didn’t love them, but I kind of wish I still tried. USC, because it occurred to me recently that technically I’m a legacy applicant there (thanks grandpa!) and they’re a good school and I crave academic validation. San Diego State, because I really like San Diego, it’s not super hard to get into, and it’s still a good school and I might have actually gone there. Stanford, because why not go for all the prestigious California schools while I’m at it. And lastly, schools in Colorado in general, because if I love the Pacific Northwest and California, why wouldn’t I love the Rocky Mountains?

    Wednesday, March 29th, 2023

    I got waitlisted. AGAIN. This time, it’s for Emory. Although, I didn’t get into Emory directly, they rejected me there, but my waitlist is for Oxford College, which is their liberal arts college that I’d go to for 2 years, before going to Emory for my remaining 2 years. Oxford only takes like 500 students, so a waitlist feels like a big achievement for me even though I AM SICK TO [redacted] DEATH OF WAITLISTS.

    Last one left is Berkeley. I think I’ve been done for a while with acceptances. At this point, I would prefer a rejection to another waitlist please and thank you. In fact, I will commit war crimes if I’m waitlisted at Berkeley.

    Thursday, March 30th, 2023

    Happy Ivy Day, everyone. In protest, and my likely rejection/waitlist from Berkeley, I am wearing my UC Davis shirt. Earlier I was talking with my friends and apparently getting waitlisted everywhere is a common occurrence. One of my friends, who I could argue is a better student than me, got waitlisted at all her safeties, 7 out of 17 schools so far. Another got into all their safeties and straight out rejected everywhere else. UW was a safety for me. That was rude of them.

    Update: 5:57 PM

    The news of the first Ivy Day rejection has broken from my friends. She got rejected from her dream school, Georgetown.

    Update: 6:55

    [Curse] THIS [unfortunate situation]. I GOT WAITLISTED AGAIN. WHAT THE HE[ck] BERKELEY.

    I applied to 12 places, and only one- one place had the courtesy to reject me. I’m sick of this, I’m so sick of this. Of course I signed up to get on that list. Who wouldn’t. But still WHAT THE HE[ck].

    I should be grateful that I got into as many places as I did. He[ck], I should be grateful and proud of myself that I got waitlisted at both Berkeley and Emory, two very prestigious schools with small acceptance rates. But here I am, stuck in waitlist purgatory.

    Friday, March 31st, 2023

    It’s the aftermath of Ivy day. It’s been quieter in my classes, more depressed and pensive. Pretty much no one had a successful day yesterday- except for one person who got into UPenn, but she also got into UChicago on early action. There was one other person I know that I was so sure would get into at least one prestigious school, and actually deserved it, and she got in no where. Cornell usually takes at least two Piscataway students per year- I’ve heard nothing about that yet, but I have a few likely candidates. We’ll see. With my Berkeley waitlist, I think I’m one of the successful ones, if you can call a waitlist successful.

    It’s felt like a while since I’ve written a wrap-up paragraph. Decision season seemed like a long one, but also felt like it flew by so quickly. It was an emotional roller coaster, and I haven’t felt mood swings like that since middle school, but in the end everything felt numb and indifferent. I’m going somewhere, and for most of us, we’re heading in the direction of a different location than where we intended, but there’s nothing we can do about it, but make the best of it in the coming months. I’m excited for what comes next, and I think the next and final episode is going to be the most fun episode in the entire series. No more anxiety ridden days, just the stress of making a $150,000+ decision and college tours.

    Signing off for now,
    Percy Singson