The Instagram Bios
It’s only February. I shouldn’t be looking at my friends' Instagram bios yet, looking at the schools they got accepted to EA or ED. Yet I am, and I’m comparing them to where I got in. Samantha got into Yale. Henry to Princeton. And I… Penn State.
I didn’t even get into their honors college.
From my friends' profiles, I get recommended to follow strangers. I go through each recommended profile one by one. Vanderbilt. University of Chicago. University of Pennsylvania. University of Southern California. I reach a profile of a girl who’d made a post about being waitlisted by Harvard—her dream school—but still rolling with the punches because “everything happens for a reason.” It probably helped that she also got accepted into Columbia and Dartmouth, and would get accepted off the waitlist regardless.
One boy is going to UCLA and made a post complaining that it isn’t UC Berkeley. Another boy who got into UC Berkeley makes a post complaining about not getting into UCLA. But they take it like champs because “everything happens for a reason.”
And everything does happen for a reason, I suppose. But why should that make anyone feel better? Does knowing there was a reason for not reaching your dream school make it better than knowing there wasn’t a reason at all? Am I just ungrateful? I got into Penn State! My dad went there, as did my grandpa and great-grandpa. I got a partial scholarship. It’s close to home, so I won’t have to worry about paying for housing. And since I’m going to school close to home, I get to eat my Ma’s cooking every day. That’s a plus, I guess.
But Penn State isn’t exactly a school that you put in your Instagram bio.
I hadn’t even wanted to get into a top college—hadn’t applied to any of them. My dream school was Reed, and I got waitlisted, which was basically the same as being rejected. Reed was a nice, short, four-letter word to put on my Instagram. Other Reedies would’ve recognized me right away, and I could’ve met up with them and talked to them and hung out with them and we could’ve chatted about how stupid school rankings are and how we definitely don’t care we aren’t going to a fancy name-brand school. We were better, smarter, cooler than all those Ivy League kids—even if they did have better Instagram bios.
But not even Reed wanted me, even if I worked really got and got a 4.8 weighted GPA. I guess had a mediocre SAT score, even if my reading and writing score was in the higher 700s. Or maybe, it was my mediocre ECs, even if I thought that being a Junior columnist at my local newspaper was pretty impressive for a teenager. Or maybe, it’s nothing and it’s just that I couldn’t pay enough. Or maybe, the admissions counselor had a bad day. Or maybe, it was nothing, and somebody rolled a dice to decide whether to let me in or not, and I got a bad roll.
My buddy who got into MIT told me to remember that the rejection wasn’t so bad that he was rejected from a few places and that “everything happens for a reason”. I said that I never wanted to hear that phrase again until the day I died. But then again, it’s probably my fault for feeling this way. I’m the one scrolling through random strangers' Instagram bios after getting rejected ED. I don’t even have my other decisions yet. I haven’t heard from Kenyon, and if I got into there, I’d definitely put them in my Instagram bio. But if I got into Kenyon, yet rejected from Reed; I would also know that nothing really happens for a reason. And it would be a good reminder to stop giving meaning to the meaningless, and that, maybe, the least painful thing to do would be to just move on.
And I will... after I look through one more bio.