Separating Your Self-Worth from Your College Application

From Andrea Lirio 

I remember how stressful the college application process was. I spent so much time painstakingly editing my Common App essay, making sure I highlighted how well-rounded I was, and catering each supplement to the corresponding college. 

Now that I’m on the other side of this process, I have some newfound clarity. There’s something I wish I knew and actually embraced back in high school: You are not your application. Even though your application is very personal, it does not define you. It does not represent all the nuances of your life. In fact, this is just one stephave a long life ahead of me, and there are so many different things can try and do! 

It’s really easy to compare yourself to others, and I definitely fell victim to that in high school at various points. The truth is you need to find what is a perfect fit for you. My journey looks so different from all my peers and those around me. So why do I keep comparing to them? We need to differentiate our worth from our work and accomplishments. Recognize that we can define success and achievement for ourselves.  

It’s important to do what I right for you regardless of what people say or what people think. I know the influence social media has on people, especially when it comes to the college process. I remember when people were posting their colleges on Facebook or posting on Instagram with their new college merch. It’s not easy to watch other people succeed and be happy when you’re stressed and going through your own college application process. 

While you put everything into your college application – awards, wins, grades, personal essays – your application doesn’t represent your entire person. Getting into and not getting into a college doesn’t define you as a person either. Instead of comparing yourself with others, start competing with yourself. 

I chose Bryn Mawr because I knew this is the place I would flourish. Even though my friends didn’t know about Bryn Mawr, I knew it was the best place for me in terms of community, opportunities, support, and the overall vibe I felt when I came on campus. I don’t regret my choice and never have. I’m so grateful for everything I’ve experienced at Bryn Mawr thus far and don’t think I would be where I am today if I hadn’t gone with my gut.  If I made my decision based on where people thought I should go instead of on where I knew I belonged, my experience would be very different. 

Overall, you need to know who you are and recognize you have your own personal journey and path. The first step is to fully appreciate who you are and where you are in life. You need to understand and embrace everything you have to offer and realize you’re unique in your offerings, thoughts, and abilities. When you learn to appreciate and love yourself, you’re able to better separate yourself from what others think of your accomplishments and worth and focus on being the best version of you.  

At Bryn Mawr, we believe full-heartedly in doing the best you can do and competing to grow and improve yourself at your own pace. Remember just because you took longer to do something than someone else doesn’t mean you failed. When you do fail or get rejected, though, remember to take a moment for yourself to understand what happened and get back up again. 


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