The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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And Now, the Envelope Please...
Jose M. Jimenez

Going into my senior year, I was really excited about college applications. I'd been looking at colleges since I was a sophomore, getting information from college fairs, older friends, and teachers.

One of the schools I'd heard a lot about, including from my college advisor, was Vassar College. I heard that the school has a very liberal environment and that there's a well-represented gay community. So when I was given the chance to visit the school, I jumped at it.

A Beautiful Campus

Vassar was sponsoring a bus trip for people of color to visit the campus and learn about the school. I signed up, and was excited when I got a letter saying that I was chosen to go.

I'd visited colleges before, but only on school trips. This felt like an independent move since I was going there without someone from my school. We were to sleep over with student hosts for two nights, then leave early Monday afternoon.

We drove for almost two hours until we reached Poughkeepsie, in upstate New York. As we drove into Vassar, I was struck by how beautiful it was. It was November, so there were still leaves on trees in myriad colors-colors that I'd never seen in the city. I loved the gothic architecture of the buildings, and the huge library.

I Saw Myself There Next Fall

I could see myself as a student, walking through the campus in the fall, talking to new friends about my English classes and what we'd do for the night.

I felt welcomed by the students there. Everyone was nice, and I even ended up connecting with a girl who'd grown up in New York City. The school became one of my two top choices, along with SUNY Purchase.

While I was on campus, we attended various seminars about admissions, financial aid, and programs at the school. At all the events, they told us the average SAT score for freshmen, what kind of high school GPA they looked for, and how applying Early Decision increased our chances of getting accepted.

People Told Me I'd Get In

From what they said, I had a lot going for me-having decent grades and being male and a person of color, both of which are underrepresented at Vassar. So I thought I had a good chance of getting accepted.

Other students who'd gone on the trip said that they saw me getting in and going to Vassar. After I got back from the trip, some of my classmates told me that, too.

image by Stephanie Wilson

I wondered if I gave off the idea that I wanted to go so much that they just picked up on it and saw it as a possibility. But deep down, some part of me started to believe them.

"Well… if everyone else sees it, then maybe I will get in," I thought. So after submitting my Early Decision application, I felt cautiously confident about my chances of getting accepted.

After three weeks with no word, I began to get nervous. Why hadn't they sent me some kind of acknowledgment that they'd received my application? Did it get lost in the mail? My college advisor called Vassar, and was told simply that they had my application. So I was left waiting in worry for another few days.

I Get the Letter

The following Monday, during Regents week, a letter arrived from Vassar. I was too nervous to open it, and sat next to my older sister with the sealed envelope in front of me. She snatched it from me and tried to open it. I almost let her, but then I took it back. I realized it was something I had to do myself.

"So, open it," she said. I took a deep breath as I pulled out the neatly folded paper. I read the letter, and everything seemed to spin around me. I hadn't been accepted.

For a minute, my mind didn't want to understand, and then a part of me that had always remained negative answered, "Well, don't act like you're surprised."

I didn't care to read the rest of the letter-I'd gotten all the information I needed. Besides, it was a general rejection letter that doesn't give any specific reason why you weren't accepted. I felt deceived. I felt as if I had been drugged by the coordinators of the trip into a false state of calm.

The letter brought me down more than I cared to let people know. I wished that the results were different, but I knew that I wouldn't be attending Vassar in the fall. I became so pessimistic about my academic future that I began to slack off on my other applications. I illogically wondered what the point was, since I'd already been rejected by one school.

I Have Other Choices

After a few days of being in a somber mood, I realized that I couldn't stay like that. Teachers and friends were encouraging, but mostly I just realized that I still had decent options.

I couldn't let one rejection letter stop me in my tracks. I had other college choices, and I needed to make sure I followed through with them.

Though I wasn't accepted to one of my choices, I'll be going to college nonetheless. I will be sitting in a college classroom next year. Whether it's at SUNY Binghamton or Brooklyn College, I know I will achieve my goals.

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