Los Alamos
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Group of students sitting on the lawn looking at the sunset from Dartmouth Hall

As fall has slowly begun its march towards orange leaves and crisp winds, and '27s begin to call Dartmouth College their home (welcome, '27s!!), so too comes a new cycle of applications. 

College applications, selective clubs, sports teams, Greek houses, internships, jobs, and more: at any point, applications loom. 

When I was applying to college, I remember being overwhelmed by the possibilities of attending different colleges. Would I get to explore a city? Join a dance club? A band? Would I get to be on the East Coast, the West, or somewhere in the middle? I'd spend hours imagining life at different colleges, their scenery in my head. 

And as the application results began rolling in, I got rejected. And paths felt as if they were being snuffed out like a candle. 

I was fortunate enough to get accepted to Dartmouth, and at Dartmouth, I found myself overwhelmed by the opportunities I had at this school. I loved playing tennis—maybe I'd try out for the club tennis team. I loved singing—maybe a capella or theater would be something that I'd be interested in. Could I take piano lessons? I would dream. 

But activities at Dartmouth were selective, too. And oftentimes, those dreams don't work out; rejections from tryouts, auditions, and applications happen. 

I remember, in my first-year fall, talking with friends about feeling a little bummed out. We believed that we'd be able to do all of the activities we wanted to do, no question. After all, we had made it, hadn't we? We'd passed the big hurdle of college applications to get into this amazing institution, so wouldn't everything be smooth sailing from here? Although being at such a resourceful institution meant that many hurdles were removed, this didn't mean that some things were open to everyone. And it sucked. Some people didn't make it into the club sport that they wanted—others had dreamed about being in an acapella group or investment club but fell short. 

Applications and rejections that follow will always be present. So, how does one deal with rejection? If one is rejected by a place that means so much to them or something that they had defined themselves with, how do they come back from that? How does one deal with a rejection of their dream school? Or their dream extracurricular, job, or internship? Or further education and careers? 

Learning how to cope is something that I have yet to absorb fully. I've been fortunate so far, accepted to a wonderful school and into clubs and opportunities that I truly care about and enjoy. Rejections are never a sign that a person's character is flawed, that they have their priorities "wrong," or that they shouldn't continue striving and believing in themselves. The rejection, after all, is a rejection of the application itself, not a rejection of the person. First and foremost, we all have an inherent worth as people, and to wager that all on an application isn't worth the stress. 

Thankfully, my initial perceptions of paths being "snuffed out" through rejections are wrong; although it may take more time and effort, there will always be other ways to express your passions and ambitions. 

In terms of extracurriculars at Dartmouth, I've found that there are so many ways for people to find communities outside of application-based groups. There are so many options, from dancing with the Argentine Tango Society or Street Soul to being part of intramural sports leagues to playing in student bands or open mics on one's own. And I am confident that opportunities are present in any other type of application out there. 

So, if you're beginning your college applications now or applying to clubs, internships, etc. (That's you, too, Olivia), keep pushing for what you love to do and what you want. Even if one opportunity to express that love closes, you can learn from that experience, and another will open. It hurts, and it may hurt in the future but dare to take that chance. Apply to that school and try out for that club! Push and speak out. The world of applications doesn't end after college applications; it's an opening to new ones. And that's a wonderful thing!

I'm excited to see what the rest of the fall will bring!

Selfie of Olivia Koo smiling outside
See you later!

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