Exactly one year ago was Ivy Day, the day that all students who apply to Ivy League Universities see their decision at 5:00 p.m. on the admissions portal. By this time last year, I was not accepted to Cornell. I was not rejected. I was placed on the waitlist.
I’ll just start off by saying that the waitlist SUCKS. Being waitlisted meant that yet again, I needed to send in essays, letters of recommendation and go above and beyond to make an impression on the admissions office; essentially I had to apply to college all over again.
During the first few weeks of this “limbo” period on the waitlist, I committed to Drexel University, given an outstanding financial aid package, and felt entirely prepared to attend school there in September. At the same time that I set up a Drexel e-mail account and planned on dorming with friends going to Drexel, I kept in contact with the director of admissions at the Hotel School, edited my resume, and recruited teachers and old bosses to write recommendation letters. It felt as though I was living a double-life.
At first, I did all the research I could about Cornell’s waitlist, which, safe to say, was not reassuring whatsoever. Stories like this one brought me in check with reality and helped me not to get my hopes up for an acceptance. The Wall Street Journal even nicely pointed out that at Cornell University, not one of 2,998 students offered a spot on last year’s waitlist was admitted. On top of that, the Hotel School has even less of a chance of being allowed to accept students of the waitlist because they have a high yield (between 80 and 90%). Most students who apply to the Hotel School end up going because we have the #1 hospitality program in the world; therefore, there would be an even smaller percentage of spots open for waitlisted applicants than for the university as a whole. I couldn’t even find statistics about how many students get accepted off the waitlist at the Hotel School (which is probably for the better)…
By the time May hit, I had myself convinced though, that Cornell was too far out of reach. The stars had not aligned for me and I finally began to accept that.
Over the next few weeks, when people asked, I told them I was going to Drexel and was ok with it. The faculty I met at Drexel included some of the nicest people I have ever met and I felt elated that I could work with them over the next four years. I had a 4 year full-tuition merit scholarship at my fingertips and would be living in the brand new dorms for the honors students. It wasn’t a bad second choice.