From the day I had to buy a pantsuit, I was not thrilled about this college visit. I had to write an essay and be interviewed, all while wearing clothes I was uncomfortable in. To make things worse (or better, depending on your perspective), my friend had also been invited to this Scholarship Competition.
He thought there might be thirty kids. I thought there would be a minimum of sixty.
Guess who was correct?
That would be me.
From the moment I walked in, I felt…out of place. I was dressed appropriately, but I still felt like an outsider. They had prepared a delicious complimentary breakfast bar, but I had to skip it because of how nauseous I was feeling. I found the table I was supposed to sit at, and I waited anxiously, glancing too frequently at the large doorways and hoping for a familiar face.
The others at my table were beautiful and looked stunning in their business professional attire. I had made it a goal that day to befriend a girl.
(Spoiler Alert: I did not successfully befriend a girl.)
After the thirty round tables in the elaborate room had been filled, the college gave speeches. Some were entertaining; others were heartwarming; and as I sat there, I felt sick. Not from nerves, but simply because of the early morning.
When we were whisked away to write our essays, I wasn’t afraid. That is to say, I wasn’t afraid of the essay. I was, however, terrified of tripping and falling as the group of seniors shuffled silently across the campus to our exam room. The incline of the sidewalk, coupled with my heels, only forebode of disaster.
I made it inside without any accident, and snagged a seat by my friend to take the essay. The tension screamed through our silence as the students filed in and followed directions.
The only fear I had regarding the essay was being given a prompt I didn’t know how to answer, but we were offered three to choose from. It was marvelous! Except for the desk pinching my stomach as I hunched over it in a very unladylike manner.
Essay writing has always been a strength. Thanks to that AP English Language and Composition class, my power had only grown. Looking back now, however, I am terrified that I didn’t flesh out my ideas well enough, or that I communicated my own thoughts poorly in my anecdotal fashion. In my defense, I had less than thirty seconds left on the clock when I put my pencil to rest.
I struck up a conversation with the person sitting beside me. (Spoiler Alert: they were not female, hence my failing at my goal.) Before I knew what was happening, my friend was being whisked away for the first set of interviews. I was in the second set, and I marched across the campus with the second set of students. I did casually chat with a nice girl as we walked and I tried desperately not to injure myself along the frigid walkway.
When we entered the room, I had the chance to sit with her, but little time to talk with her. They brought in a panel of students currently in their honors program to market their school to us. The one senior looked very familiar, and it wasn’t until hours later I realized he has an incredible resemblance to Billy Unger. (He was, however, not Billy Unger, which was terribly disappointing.)
The next thing I knew, I was being escorted to the interview. I chatted with my guide, asking her how she had felt in my shoes this time last year. (Though I didn’t ask for any advice for walking in heels. I should have. What a missed opportunity.) She asked me if I was nervous, and I was honest: I honestly wasn’t.
I have been on a live TV interview with minimal preparation. I have faced crowds of my peers and gaped at them, lacking all comprehensive words. I have presented when prepared, and I have winged things. This group of professionals didn’t scare me.
(Complete Honesty: The professor in the middle scared me a little bit when I first walked in, but he was actually a very kind gentleman.)
So I sat in my interview and gave my answers. I told them everything about myself, barring my social security number and the time I removed a single metal folding chair from a large stack and created a large, clattering panic. Later, I realized that I hadn’t sat in the most ladylike of positions, and I chided myself. But it was too late. What was done was done. (Two days later, I would think of the perfect answers to a few particularly difficult questions, and would chide myself again.)
When I returned to the large room where they had kept us for the panel interviews (with Not Billy Unger), I found a group of kids playing Apples to Apples. Unfortunately, they were playing at a very long, thin table and it was impossible to jump in. I was also afraid to show my true colors to these strangers. I am rather competitive. Though, I should count my blessings that they weren’t playing Uno. That would have been a game they would not have recovered from.
A few others came over and squished at the table end I had placed myself at and watched the game, as well. I decided to strike up a conversation with the one to my right, who happened to look a little bit like Josh Hutcherson.
It was actually the one who had been writing an essay beside me earlier, and I had good fun asking him lots about himself and telling him bits and pieces about me (for example, he owns two pigs and enjoys bowling). Eventually, though, he left for his interview and I consoled myself that I would probably never seen Not Josh Hutcherson again.
As I got up to gather my things, I noticed the girl I had talked to earlier–the sweet one I had sat near for the panel presentation. It may have been my imagination, but I’m pretty sure she gave me A Displeased Look, which made me quite confused as well as sad.
Then those of us who had survived the interview process were treated to a fancy lunch, where there was a single bowl of ice cream at each table. As I was lamenting the idea of sharing a single bowl of ice cream among eight people, I realized it was butter.
I am not especially cultured.
I then enjoyed a lunch with my parents, another family, a professor, and Not Billy Unger–all except for the salad, which I did not eat, but appeared to eat because my father switched his finished plate with mine and then ate my salad, too.
He’s a good dad.
After the entire experience was over, we decided to stick around for a tour of the campus, during which I blistered my one foot and caused strange pain to the other. I also thought I spotted a YouTuber named Adler Davidson. However, it was Not Adler Davidson.
Are college campuses filled with supposed celebrities? Seriously, what’s with that? I also saw, like, three lookalikes from the movie Dead Poets Society. And I felt like I was in Dead Poets Society, too, with all the boys in their suits, walking quietly and looking debonair.
Did you notice the change in my language, there? That is a metaphor for when I returned to the hotel, removed the fancy pantsuit, and threw on the sweatpants that I had the extreme foresight to pack.
Overall, it was an exciting day. I failed to make a girl friend, I almost met three celebrities, and I avoided scarring a group of high school seniors with my competitive board game nature.
PS: (I looked up Billy Unger, and he apparently changed his name to William Brent? Granted, it sounds more professional, but he just ruined childhood memories with my best friend. I guess that’s what pantsuits do.)