Column: You are worth more

Charles Yu, Author

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Last week, colleges began rolling out their decisions for Early Action and Early Decision applicants. Included in those released decisions were prestigious schools in the ranks of Stanford and a whole host of Ivies with more releases to come in the following weeks. In that group of college hopefuls still waiting to hear back is none other than yours truly, and while I, myself, have not officially received a decision, I’d like to reflect on this time of college decision-induced hysteria.

It’s an interesting feeling to watch my friends, both new and old, receive these life-changing decisions, and in some ways, it’s like the end of an era, an end to a period of my life in which there was a freedom to dream, a time when you could point across the street from Paly and say, “I’m going THERE.”  It was okay to dream – everybody does – and it is still okay to dream. But it’s hard to dream when those around me are beginning to face the reality of being accepted, rejected or deferred from their dream schools.

Cruel  that’s how I’d describe the nature of these decisions. It’s all happiness and celebrations when someone you know gets in, but it’s heart-wrenching to hear of a deserving and qualified applicant getting shut down. For the first time in my life, and for those who are going through the same thing as I am, the college admissions process begs me to question, “How much am I worth?” Am I only worth the stack of papers or pixels that is my application? Am I worth more than so-and-so? Worth less? And how will I feel when I get that letter signifying an acceptance or rejection? Will my own perception of self-worth change?

To only make matters worse is the manner in which these decisions are given and how news of these decisions circulates: through the web. It’s one thing to receive a decision in the form of a paper letter (and many schools still send them), but most decisions today are received through electronic notifications, serving only to further propagate the idea that you’re only worth a few kilobytes of data.

It also seems that nothing is private anymore. Through the fever of those trying to find out who got in where, knowledge of your college decision could become public domain within a matter of hours. And in the college-crazed social media frenzy, you quickly find out who will and who won’t be going off to their early schools, whether you’re curious to know or not. It’s the talk of the town; everyone is trying to spread information. Facebook feeds are polluted with “[Insert name of school] Class of 2019!” and friends will chat you just to tell you who got in where.

But given the nature of college decisions, matters which may seem like evaluations of your worth, it appears that this social media investigation is just the way things are going to be. It’s one way people cope with this aforementioned evaluation. People deal with the feelings of about the process (both positive and negative) in different ways and through different outlets: some post on Facebook, others keep it between close friends and family and some (like me) write out things like this. So, if you’re one to blast on social media, please be mindful of your presence, and to those who are recipients of these posts, know that these posters, too, are trying to cope through these times much like you are.

To those who have been admitted into their dream schools, I extend to you my congratulations. And to those who have been rejected or deferred, know that your worth CANNOT be boiled down to an email shot through the web or a piece of paper mailed to you. So, do what you’ve got to do and cope how you’d like to cope. Whether it’s a Facebook post, a Tweet, a family discussion or printing out and ripping up your rejection letters to shreds, know that you are worth more.