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On Accepted Students Day
You’ve seen them in the dining hall, starting at the wrong end of the salad bar. You may even have been asked to address them, a campus leader exemplifying everything the ‘Cac has to offer. They are peeking through your windows and stealing your parking spots–they are accepted students.
Aside from the parking spot thing, it’s difficult to be bitter about the influx of baby powder-scented high school seniors emerging from the womb of Spirit Week and SATs and orienting their chunky little limbs in the direction of the nearest 30 rack. In fact, it’s quite refreshing, despite the fact that they each come with a scrutinizing middle-aged side kick.
The advent of Accepted Students Day season has caused me to wax nostalgic about my own participation in this rite of passage. I remember it as thus:
Woke up. Intuitively put on an outfit consisting entirely of pastels—this betrayed good instincts. Topped off outfit with pastel eyeshadow, in retrospect a questionable–though not damning–choice. Curled my hair. (Note to self: hair used to curl?!)
Walked into the student center with Stepdad and sat in the back row of an assembly of plastic chairs. Looked around for people that looked “normal” and/or “socially competent.” Wondered if I looked “normal” and/or “socially competent.”
Made awkward conversation with Stepdad and eventually girl from California sitting in front of me. Thought, “I could be friends with her.” (Girl from California would go on to be one of my closest friends and eventually my roommate.)
Held mini-conference with Stepdad. Decided unanimously that we should move up about a half mile to one of the empty seats near the front. Met boy from New Jersey. (Boy from New Jersey’s best friend from high school would go on to be my roommate abroad.)
Listened to speech from Dean of Admissions. Dean held up stamp that read “Admit.” Demonstrated the noise the stamp made. People clapped and looked for each other’s reactions. I shivered with the effects of excitement, but mainly being underdressed in Maine.
Sat near the quad for a while and possibly recognized some people from the school’s brochures. Felt awkward about it. Thought, “I could definitely spend four years here.”
Went to Student Life info session. Realized that some high schoolers were wearing special name tags and seemed to know eachother already. Talked to a lot of people who were choosing between Amherst and Bowdoin. Told them that that wasn’t a problem for me because I got rejected from Amherst. Realized people wearing special nametags were being wooed by the school. Felt un-wooed…but mainly hungry.
Noted discussion leaders in Student Life session seemed intent on emphasizing the availability of alcohol. Filed “alcohol as a currency” in head for later consideration.
Went to Student Activities session. Developed crush on Outing Club representative. Fell asleep.
Woke up. Went to lunch. Got overwhelmed, made poor choices except for fish chowder. Sat with Stepdad and didn’t talk to anyone. Met Dean of Admissions for region. He told me I was his favorite applicant. Called him out by asking if he told everyone they were his “favorite applicant.” Felt like maybe I’d been rude…was still bitter about lack of special nametag/lanyard.
Went to plead with/possibly offer sexual favors to Financial Aid office for money. Watched Stepdad carefully pass documents over the table. Watched him shyly lay out an argument he’d clearly rehearsed on 3.5 hour ride up. Watched him get steamrolled by head of admissions. Watched him watch his retirement in Florida fly out the office’s antique fireplace.
Walked out in silence. Said something like “You tried,” or thought it. Made mental note to appreciate Stepdad more.
Went to ice cream social. Did a lot of awkward things in a very crowded room, got a vague sense I would be doing awkward things in a crowded room three times a week for the next four years. Likely spilled ice cream on my clothes, got a vague sense that I would be spilling ice cream on my clothes twice a week for the next four years.
Literally ran into the Dean of Admissions. He asked me if I was coming. I said “Probably.” Looked at his stern face 10 feet above me. Pissed my pants a little. Remembered that I had offered the school my first born to even be admitted in the first place. Gulped back comment on lifelong debt. Nodded, “Yes, I’m definitely coming.”
Bought t-shirt at the bookstore. Sealed the deal. Never regretted it.
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