I Got Rejected by My Dream College 5 Years Ago, and Now I Have My Dream Job

In the Spring of 2015, I got the worst news of my life (well, what I thought was the worst news of my life at that point). I had just been rejected from my dream college after being told by my guidance counselors and teachers that I was basically guaranteed admission given my GPA, test scores, and extracurriculars. But while standing backstage during my high school's Spring musical, I opened an email that started with "Unfortunately . . ." — and we all know how the rest of that email goes.

In that moment, I thought my world was over. I had wanted nothing more than to earn a degree in writing and editing, but I got rejected from both of the top tier schools near the predominant publishing cities in California — San Francisco and Los Angeles. When Fall term started, I found myself in a college town at a school that I had always liked but never thought would be beneficial for pursuing my creative passions. It was a really great school, but when I had so clearly envisioned myself somewhere else, it was a hard pill to swallow at first.

Your worth is not defined by college admissions, and your dreams are still valid and achievable.

During my first few months of college, I was determined to find the creativity I longed for within the campus. I grabbed every opportunity I could that dealt with writing and editing. I took classes in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, playwriting, and screenwriting. I joined theatre and performing clubs. I got jobs at the school paper and online publications. I worked tirelessly to take advantage of every opportunity that came my way because I was terrified that the name of my school would matter greatly in my job search after I left. But at the end of my four years, I quickly realized that it wouldn't actually matter at all.

Not but three months after graduation, I was hired to report on comic books for the entertainment website Screen Rant. A month after that, I was hired as a writer for POPSUGAR. And a few weeks ago, I learned that I landed my dream post-grad job as an editorial fellow for a California book publisher — the very job I thought I would never be able to get without a diploma with my original dream school's name etched across it.

I learned what a lot of students learn after being rejected by their dream school: that your ability to get hired for your entire career is contingent on your work ethic, not the campus you study at for four years. Anyone can find a place in the industry they're passionate about so long as they work hard. Any college can pave the way for your future if you're willing to take its resources by the reins and use them to shape the beginnings of your professional life.

Just because you don't get into a certain college doesn't mean you're any less talented or should be any less passionate about the career path you've chosen. Your worth is not defined by college admissions, and your dreams are still valid and achievable. When I opened that email backstage at my high school play five years ago, I was convinced that I would never be able to have the career I so desperately wanted. But now, I wish I could go back and tell that girl, "Just wait until you see what's next."