It sure is hard to please all of your loved ones when you start college. Half of your relatives exclaim that college will be the greatest four years of your life, involving the crazy fun nights as well as meeting the love of your life (otherwise you’ll be single forever). Delightful, huh?
Your parents sit on the other end of the spectrum with crying out, “Get perfect grades on everything you do ever, don’t lose your scholarships or we’re going to have another child named student debt and if you goof off, we’re disowning you!”
I need to keep my grades high for the Zell Miller Scholarship, an achievement that pays all of my tuition, leaving fees, books and meal plan, leaving my parents’ words glued to my hip. Because of the high GPA requirement, I figured I might as well shoot for the stars my first semester of college and aim for a 3.8, a requirement for the honors program at the University of Georgia.
Students either get into the program automatically with their acceptance, apply before school starts or apply one last time after their first semester. After those three chances, students can’t apply again because of the requirement to take a certain number of honors classes before graduation.
I figure with my extracurricular activities, writing skills and hard-working demeanor, I could fit the first semester requirements of taking 15 credits, the 3.8 GPA, a completed application and two essays, despite the forewarning the very competitive selection. I can roll with it; I’m a real Monica Geller when it comes to competition and setting high standards.
I spent my entire thanksgiving break composing and perfecting the two essays. The first prompt required I write about my transition into college and the second to reflect about Benjamin Franklin’s quote, “If passion drives you, let reason hold the range,” and how it relates to my longterm goals.
Thinking about my long term goals sent me into a mini mid-life crisis, but putting them on paper for someone to determine my fate for a super elite program made me feel stressed beyond comparison. I was on vacation, and yet I couldn’t wake up one morning and relax with a cup of coffee; I have to pick apart each detail in my essays.
After completing my essays and application over a week before the due date like the obnoxious overachiever, I studied every available second to ensure I receive the coveted 3.8. It started to become extremely draining both physically and mentally, and my only sustenance became coffee and tator tots.
Halfway through finals week, I started to de-stress and become fairly certain I made the cut (especially because I force my best friend to calculate the minimum I needed on my exams three different times). Both he and the countless hours I spent studying relieved me and started to make me feel like all of my hard work would actually add up to something.
Everyone felt so proud of me for working hard, and at this point, I’m pretty pleased with myself as I wait for the end of December to arrive, when I would receive my decision about the program via email.
On December 23rd, I spotted a red notification by my school email app during break at work and sucked in my breath as I tapped the email to find a convoluted letter saying “no” in the nicest way possible.
It took me a minute to fully comprehend the words in front of me, so I clicedk out of the email and refreshed a few more times before it settled in that I really got denied. I felt shocked that I wasn’t accepted, upset at the restriction from this amazing opportunity and slightly angry that I worked my ass off for what felt like no purpose, but mostly just confused.
How had I been denied? My final GPA read 3.98, my involvement is solid and essays are my strong suit. I return to work in a daze, wishing I can call the people in charge of the decisions and ask why I have to bring this disappointing news to my loved ones.
I spent a few hours blaming my best friend for jinxing it when he said I would get in, a few more rereading my essays and finding a couple of grammatical errors and a few final hours assuming it may have been because I was white or because my classes weren’t challenging enough. I still am dumbfounded as to why I didn’t get in, and still struggle to find the positivity in my high GPA.
What I do know, however, is next semester I will lean a little bit more towards what my relatives recommend. While earning excellent grades is fine and dandy, I think it’s time to dwell a little more time enjoying myself, rather then spending all of my time studying.
In other words, it’s time to be a little more like Phoebe and less like Monica.