Nostalgia-induced Words of Encouragement

A path of ginkgo trees that is especially beautiful in the fall

If you ever visit WashU, you might notice that there are a lot of nice, happy people. People who seem a little bit too infatuated with WashU. It might freak you out a bit, and that’s okay. I admit, near the end of my first visit to WashU I thought, “If I hear one more person describe this place with the word ‘community’…” However, I can assure you that the people that you see who look so in love with WashU aren’t faking it. I’ve been at WashU for three months, and I’m still giddy about the fact that I ended up here. Of course, I’m not like this all the time. It’s human nature to take for granted the things we appreciate most, so sometimes I forget what it feels like to be excited about college. But something always reminds me. It can be anything: the beautiful fall leaves of the ginkgo trees, a wonderful day spent with new friends, the traditional pancake dinner with my dorm. It can be something as simple as watching a tour group walk by.

On Friday afternoon I saw a group of people on a campus tour. Nothing unusual about that– I see tours often enough. For some reason though, this particular tour triggered in me a feeling of nostalgia. I was carried back to my days as a prospective student. The first time I stepped foot on the grounds of WashU was  in September of 2011 for Discovery Weekend. I was awed by the architecture and dazzled by the dorms. It was love at first sight. I remember a conversation I had with a freshman girl. I was telling her, “I’m so jealous of you guys. You already go here! You don’t have to worry about if you’re going to get in or not, because you did.” As I vented my worries and frustrations, she tried to console me, telling me the wait would be over before I knew it. I was not convinced. I just wanted to BE at college! I was tired of all this application business; I just wanted to be a part of WashU! The wait was killing me.

It’s been more than a year since that weekend visit. I have since been on the other side of  a similar conversation. Now I’m the one to talk other students and tell them what makes WashU special. I’ve tried to console those that tell me the application process is stressing them out, and I understand when they don’t look completely convinced after I offer words of comfort. I’ll say it again anyway–the college application process does not last forever. Soon you will click submit. You will mail in the envelopes. You will sit back and realize that you have done your best. If you do not think it was your best, well…that’s unfortunate, but it’s too late to change anything. Worrying about it will not help. Don’t beat yourself up, okay? Enjoy your final days as a senior. Take pictures with your friends so you can decorate your dorm wall with them when you finally do get to college. I said when, not if.

In a few months, you will smile sheepishly as you remember the time you said, “Oh my gosh, [insert name of your friend and confidant]! No college is going to accept me!” A year from now, you will reminisce about the good ol’ days, which seemed like bad days at the time because you didn’t know where you would be in a few months. Perhaps right now you aren’t sure that you worded your essay just right, or you don’t know if you did all that you could. But a year from now, you will look back and laugh, and these stressful times will be nothing but fodder for nostalgia.