The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

HUSSAIN: #Vanderbilt Not ‘25

Amidst college acceptances for the Class of 2025, we must remember not to compare ourselves and our admissions to those in the incoming freshman class.
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Emily Gonçalves
Vanderbilt Star V mural (Hustler Multimedia/Emery Gonçalves

I’ll have to admit: when the new year comes around, I’m one of those people who posts “My Year In Review.” And I know that clicking through 20 social media story posts that aren’t about you and have nothing to do with you is incredibly boring. And I know reading my ramblings reflecting on the past year isn’t your preferred past time. But for me, posting my years in review is special. I pick out my favorites a few weeks in advance and post them while waiting for the ball to drop. 

However, this year was a little different from the rest. Aside from the pictures of mountainous nachos with my high school friends at our local diner, I found a photo of myself (quite ugly, in fact, and there is no way the entire university gets privy to that photo, so just imagine with me) of my eyes stained red from tears. My nose was just runny enough to get the effect that I just bawled my eyes out but classy enough so there wasn’t snot everywhere, and of course, popping up a peace sign with my tongue sticking out just because I think I’m funny. Looking to the date, I saw a sparkling Dec. 15, 2019, the day that I was rejected from Columbia University. 

“Ugh! Another Ivy-League-reject complaining about not getting into their ‘dream school’ and ending up at Vanderbilt,” I can already hear being typed in the comments underneath. But hold on, this story is a lot more than me getting rejected and me being salty about it. In hindsight, I’m glad I got the privilege to attend Vanderbilt, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. What this piece is actually about is the toxic mindset some of us still have: comparing ourselves to the people around us, and trying to one-up them any chance we get. 

If you find yourself fitting into the category of having a toxic mindset, don’t worry, you aren’t alone. You are probably just like me, scrolling through Instagram holding your breath, waiting to see pictures populate your feed with #Harvard2025, #Princeton2025 and of course, the #Yale2025 from the girl who is living the Rory Gilmore fantasy. And I know you. I know you are scrambling to find an explanation for their victory that undermines the work and effort they put in. I know you are breaking down the complex college admissions process and electing single qualities to be the reason that someone got in somewhere. I know you don’t think that this applies to you; I know you think your admission process was holistic and you deserve to be here. But somehow the Class of 2025’s admission’s decision came down to just one single quality.

Let’s face it: there were definitely differences between the applicant pools. The University of Pennsylvania reported that 38 percent of their Early Decision candidates chose not to submit their test scores, because standardized test scores are simply remnants of a bygone era of college admissions. Wake Forest reports that due to the lack of availability of interviews, many applicants didn’t have the chance to interview, making them completely optional. Yale went even further as to not even consider SAT Subject Tests—even if they are submitted, the Admissions Committee will not take them into consideration. On top of it all, the global pandemic raging throughout the world has given some leniencies in admissions that would not have otherwise been there. 

But, I know you need to stop comparing yourself to the Class of 2025. I know WE need to stop comparing ourselves to the Class of 2025. Because their experience was so drastically different than ours, you will never know how you would fare against them, and how they would fare against you.

You aren’t them. You aren’t competing against them. Why does it matter where they go?

So, now that we’ve identified the problem, how do we stop the incessant need to check Instagram bios for “[insert school name here] ‘25”? First, we need to take a moment to appreciate where we are. Vanderbilt has proven to us that they are committed to ensuring we get a college experience despite the pandemic. We have come together as a community to put together carnivals, attend classes in-person and even explore campus in ways that might have been left to the wayside. Next, we have to stop comparing ourselves to the people around us; stop looking through Instagram, you know nobody actually lives like that. Every journey is unique, no matter where a person goes or where they might end up. The journey itself is what creates the person, not the destination.

I know it’s cliche. You could go right on ahead and throw my article away without giving it any thought. But, even if these empty words of motivation don’t inspire you, they should at least make you reflect. We must become content with our choices. When your next year in review is filled with pictures of your friends off at dinner somewhere in Hillsboro or just goofing around on campus, remind yourself how your experience is very much your own and incomparable to anyone else. 

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About the Contributor
Emily Gonçalves, Former Multimedia Director
Emily Gonçalves (‘20) was the Multimedia Director of the Vanderbilt Hustler. She majored in Mathematics and Economics and minored in Latin American Studies. When she’s not taking photos, you can catch this Jersey girl making puns, singing, advocating for girls’ education and drinking lots of chocolate milk and espresso!
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