Across the nation, high school seniors are coming to terms with a new normal.
Teens fear for the health of their family and friends amid the coronavirus outbreak. In addition, graduation ceremonies, proms, and spring sports have been canceled for many students—prompting understandable disappointment.
And like every spring, many seniors must also grapple with college rejections. For those students, Sophie Holohan has a simple message to share: “You are valid. You are incredible. You are going to do amazing things.”
The 17-year-old from San Jose, California, is among a growing number of high school seniors taking to social media to share their college rejections and show their peers that life goes on. For Holohan, an aspiring musician, that message took the form of an original song.
She wrote and recorded the tune just one day after learning she hadn’t been admitted to her top-choice school. You can view Holohan’s message and song on her YouTube channel.
“It was definitely cathartic,” said Holohan, who will attend Berklee College of Music (MA) this fall. “Because the feelings were so raw, writing a song about it helped get those thoughts that were circling in my head to a more productive place where I could name them and acknowledge them. I’m already so excited to attend the school that I now know that I was meant to go to, and I think writing the song was really helpful in getting to this point.”
Holohan, who started writing her own songs at age 5, hopes her video helps other students understand success is not linear.
“Though it hurts to be rejected and have the ideas that you’ve built up in your head taken away, it just leads you to the place that you were meant to be,” she explained.
The teen also hopes her video can help others overcome the sadness and shame that too often surround college rejections. Holohan recalls that she “felt really heartbroken” upon learning she had not been admitted to her top-choice college. A snippet of her reaction to that news is included in the video.
“Rejection is something that we keep a secret a lot of the times, as it can feel embarrassing or vulnerable,” Holohan said. “Music is all about vulnerability, and it’s also about bringing people together. A lot of people I know have also been rejected, so I thought by sharing my vulnerability, it could help others to heal a bit too.”
Listen to Holohan’s song and use the comment section below to share your own advice for students dealing with college rejections.
Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.