Dec. 1, 2015. There are too many voices; too many people around me. There is a “Go Amanda!” group chat. My friends are scheming to meet me in the second floor bathroom during class so that they can be with me while I check my decision. How they will all manage to get out of class at the same time, I do not know. There are 20 people around me, and they can see that the update is yellow, glowing, waiting for me to click on it. I step back. It’s too much.
That day was Match Day — the day I received the email that changed my life. I had applied to college through QuestBridge, a program that allows high-achieving, low-income students to rank up to twelve of colleges (including Stanford, Princeton, and Yale) and apply to them for free. If the student is a “match” with the college (meaning that the student got into the college and ranked it highly enough on their list), they receive a full, four-year scholarship to attend, but students can only get matched to one. On that day, surrounded by the noise and excitement of my friends, I found out that I would be attending Stanford.
Now that decisions are out for the Class of 2021 and Admit Weekend is approaching, I can’t help but look back at the application process. I remember the months I spent exchanging essays with my close friend, how we pored over each other’s every word. I remember studying for the SAT and SAT subject tests, practice test after practice test. And I remember opening the decision and feeling like all of it, both the stress and frustration, were finally worth it.
And then Admit Weekend came. I walked onto Stanford’s sunny campus (a great contrast with the East Coast schools whose admit weekends I had just come back from) and felt … right. I still remember meeting my RoHos, Angela and Dani, getting to know my fellow ProFros through dorm activities mediated by the HoHos and hitting the ProFroGo once I committed. I also remember thinking about how ridiculous those acronyms would sound to people who didn’t know what they meant. Left and right, people asked me where I was from, where I was when I got accepted and if Stanford was my first choice. Everyone was smiling. Everyone, it seemed, felt at home here, too.
Every once in a while, walking to class, I’ll take the long way. When I pass through the main quad, the feeling comes all at once as I realize again where I am. More than that, I realize how fast this year has gone, and I can’t help but feel jealous of the Class of 2021. All of Stanford is going to be new for them. To any ProFros reading this, I congratulate you. You have worked hard to get here and we are all eagerly awaiting your arrival. As exciting as that is, I invite you to take a step back. Think of the work you have done to get here. Think about the people cheering you on. When you get to campus, take a mental picture. Take it slow, because it goes by so, so fast.
Contact Amanda Rizkalla at amariz ‘at’ stanford.edu.