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Repeat After Me
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Repeat after me: there is no single perfect college.  I've heard this cliché a million times from friends, parents, teachers, and college counselors, but being as stubborn as am, I never paid it any mind.  A long time ago, I mapped out a plan with a specific school I planned to attend, a program I wanted to take, and a future I told myself I deserved.  Since I'd already gone through all the motions, everything would fall into place.  Well, you can't always be right, right?

 

I'm writing this from the second hotel in the third state (not including the airport at home in New York) I've been to in the past two days.  I realize the clock is ticking; I only have two weeks to make one of the biggest decisions of my life, and maybe my biggest decision yet: which university will I attend in the fall of 2013?

 

Since mid-October, acceptance letters have been rolling in from, literally, all over the world: a school in Paris asks if I'd join the graduating class of 2017 in sipping un café on a side street of St Germain in between classes, a school in Florida luring me in with e-mails of pictures of students clad in school gear posing next to palm trees, and so forth.  Still, I never let myself get too excited about all these victories: after all, they didn't matter, because the plan was already in motion, and attending another school was unthinkable.

 

I've never been good with rejection (who is?); in fact, fear of rejection was what prevented me from even applying to Ivy League schools.  The Ivy League just seemed out of my "league”, even though my grades and qualifications begged to differ.  Like many people with ADHD, my emotions can be hard to control; I take things too personally, and I'm way too hard on myself when things don't go the way they're meant to, but events this past month have taught me a lesson or two in keeping my head up and not getting too down.  After a winning streak of being accepted to more than a handful of schools, the tables turned, and I was rejected by one and, even worse, wait-listed by THE school.

 

I learned the bad news when I was on vacation with my parents in France for spring break.  The first rejection didn't get to me too much; "After all," I told myself, "it doesn't matter anyway, since this isn't the one."  I applied to my top choice first, way back in the second week of September of 2012, but it was the last school I heard back from.  Months and months of waiting drove me crazy; all my school friends heard back from the schools of their dreams, and it’s now April and I still hadn't heard back from mine.  I convinced myself this was some kind of sick joke; I called back the school almost weekly in a panic, being kept on hold sometimes for more than a half hour each time, to ask what in the world was wrong.  I checked the online server religiously, even waking up in the middle of the night to check for the news I'd been waiting for so long.  Then, one day, I indeed found out the status of my application: wait-listed.

 

This felt worse than being flat-out rejected; the wait-list still leaves some small hope.  Now, I was forced to reexamine all the other schools that would love to have me be a part of their incoming freshman class of 2017, but I hadn’t toured any of these!  I had completely closed myself off to even the possibility I might go to one of these amazing universities, and moreover, that I might even find them amazing.

 

I dreaded this two-day trip to Miami and New Orleans even though I was going with one of my best friends… he’s like the older brother I never had; it had been horribly stressful at school, I was still jet lagged and I hadn't even been back at school for a full week before it was time to get back to the airport once again.  I pouted as we drove over to our first tour in Miami, breathing in the warm air, soaking in the sun and seeing the perfect palm trees everywhere, until I realized I was being ridiculous: this school was paradise!  I decided to go on the tour with an open mind, and I'll let you in on a little secret: I love the school!

 

Much traveling and a few missed flight connections later, it's a rainy morning in New Orleans and people of all ages are still coming  home from a very, very long night of partying (I suspect the people in New Orleans might just party harder than people back home in Manhattan!)  I have one tour to go before I finally get back home to New York and gather my thoughts so I can make my decision.

 

It's been a wild, stressful, and action-packed few days, but my spirits have certainly lifted.  I never really considered myself an optimist, but something tells me that the start of college in the fall will mark the beginning of a new, exciting chapter in my life, regardless of the school I choose to attend.  Moreover, THE school isn't the only one; repeat after me, there is no single perfect college!  I'll accept an offer somewhere else, and if my original first choice does accept me, I'll reevaluate then, but for now, I won't hold my breath; I'll just enjoy the ride…  let the good times roll!

 

Until later,

Alex

 

Alex Marco will share her journey from high school to university with us in a series of articles, "Alex Goes to College.” She has agreed to accept your questions about this adventure. Please submit questions and topic suggestions about getting ready for and into the college of your choice to AlexGoesToCollege@add.org.

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