I had been looking forward to applying to colleges since I was a kid. Because of that, by the time senior year of high school rolled around, I was pretty on top of my application game. My guidance counselor knew I was driven, so while he was there to give me the “thumbs up” whenever I needed it, he wasn’t one to give me advice or steer me in the right direction. Or so I thought.
I was set on applying Early Decision to “School X.” By October, my Common App and all my supplements were done and proofread over at least ten times, but still, I had this uneasy feeling that I still wasn’t good enough. Two weeks before the deadline, I made my first actual appointment with my guidance counselor. I had him read over my supplements, and in a panic, asked him if he thought I was good enough for School X. He looked at me, and his cool, calm, and collected Southern Californian air, he said, “Benya, don’t ask if you’re good enough for School X. Ask if School X is good enough for you.”
What? What does that even mean? I left his office frustrated by such an ambiguous answer. School X was the crème de la crème by any Forbes magazine ranking; why wouldn’t it be good enough for me?
It wasn’t until a week later that I flew from Bangkok, Thailand to the United States and toured School X did I realize how important my guidance counselor’s piece of advice was. The day before I toured School X, I visited Tufts – and then proceeded to spend literally 9 hours on the campus, joining in on any club meeting I could find. When I arrived on School X’s campus, I was hoping for the same feeling of excitement and belonging, but I didn’t get it. The vibe just wasn’t me. I knew I could do well, but I didn’t feel like I would enjoy doing it. It was then that I realized that “fit” has more to do than what is listed in Forbes magazine. It’s about trusting that you, the 18 years of you, are enough, and that the school for you is the school that is willing to prove that they are in fact worth your attendance, not the other way around.
So, I flew back home to Bangkok and had one week to scrap my application to School X and apply Early Decision to Tufts. What was once a months-long process, I wrote my application to Tufts in less than a week, the words rolling right off my fingers. This place was home. I didn’t need to spend time proving that I was “good enough” because in some weirdly comforting way, I already knew that I belonged there, and that as long as I shared my voice, I knew Tufts would see that too.
So, in the wise words of my “cool, calm, and collected Southern Californian” guidance counselor, don’t ask whether you are good enough for School X, ask if School X is good enough for you.