I remember March 30th of 2012 a little too well: the way my stomach churned as I parked my car in the driveway, the slow walk to the mailbox, and crippling feeling of disappointment when I fished my hand around inside and found only a small envelope. Throughout high school, everything I’d done had been in the pursuit of getting into Notre Dame. In that moment, I felt like everything I’d dreamed of was shattering around me. Disheartened, I opened the envelope, and pulled out a “waitlist” card. With tears in my eyes, I filled it out and sent it back into Notre Dame.
The next couple hours were particularly gloomy. I remember the disappointment of telling my mom, a Notre Dame alumna, that our dream wouldn’t be coming true. I went to my friends house for what we dubbed the “Ivy League Rejects” party, where we ate pizza and played video games and tried to console each others' disappointments (except for one kid who got into Yale who was there; I’m not really sure why we invited him). That night I cried myself to sleep, thinking only of how much I wanted to go to Notre Dame and how my dream would never happen.
After a weekend of being down in the dumps, I finally had a realization: my dreams were never going to come true if I gave up on them. Accepting defeat was the only way to guarantee that I would never get into Notre Dame. So instead, I spent hours creating an elaborate several step plan to get off the waitlist and immediately went to work on it. I also started looking at other options, such as transferring to Notre Dame after a year at another school or applying to Notre Dame for grad school. I realized that there are many roads that lead to Notre Dame and not all of them end and begin with a big envelope on March 30th.
The next month was a little strange. I had to put down my deposit to another university and began taking placement exams and making plans for orientation there. At the same time, I was working hard at my plan to get into Notre Dame, while juggling preparation for senior solos in dance and choir, directing my own short play, preparing for Quiz Bowl nationals, and getting ready for prom and graduation. It was a difficult time to be stuck in limbo, especially at a time when people never stop asking, “Where are you going next year?” I unfailingly never gave up hope though. I always replied, “I don’t know yet; I’m still waiting to hear back from Notre Dame.”
On May 9th, I was watching “An American in Paris” after school and before dance class when the caller id flashed across the TV. “The University of Notre Dame,” it read. I started screaming- then promptly tried to compose myself enough to answer the phone. I can still remember the conversation that followed. My admissions counselor, LeShane Saddler, asked me about my plans for the next year if I didn’t get into Notre Dame. I replied telling him which university that I was planning to attend. He then asked, “Do you think they would be okay if you told them you couldn’t come?”
And then I screamed again (sorry LeShane)!
I was extraordinarily lucky enough to be one of only a small group that got taken off the waitlist (my year almost 1000 students were waitlisted; less than 50 made it off the waitlist). I had been a tad worried at first- would I be treated just like any other Notre Dame student? Would I get good financial aid? But I had nothing to worry about- once you arrive at Notre Dame, no one really cares who got in early, in regular decision or from the waitlist. You are part of the ND family regardless.
So, if you got your envelope in the mail this week and it was smaller than you expected, I urge you to not give up hope. Realize that there are so many ways to find yourself at Notre Dame. If it is truly the place you are meant to be, in one way or another, you will find a way here.