A Rejection From Stanford — An Acceptance From Yale

So it’s official: I have been accepted at Yale SOM! I am elated. Or at least I would be if I hadn’t wound myself into such a tight little ball these past few weeks that I can’t tell my toes from my wrists.

Looking back at the past few months, I realize that I didn’t really see this moment coming. I’ve been trying to “breathe” and “visualize” and do all that other poppycock, but it has gotten me nowhere…then throw in a rejection from Stanford yesterday and my anxiety was peaking at richter scale, level 10. Like any good earthquake, tremors ripple through for days afterward.

To say that it’s been tumultuous is an understatement. Read my previous blog post about anxiety to get the idea of what it’s like. I am so thrilled and talking to Kristen on the phone today sent shivers up my spine. But it wasn’t real until I got an email from a current student I met while on campus. He saw my post on gmatclub.com and wanted to congratulate me. I was finally convinced: this is it. I’m in.

But where was I earlier this week? Well, on Wednesday morning I woke up to rejection from Stanford. Even though I was neither surprised nor upset by my rejection, I was sent into a downward spiral of uncertainty – was this an omen of things to come? Did it indicate the overall quality of my applications? Was business school a ridiculous choice for a gay non-profit educator from a liberal arts college?

Fortunately it did not portend anything. Everyone knows Stanford’s a crapshoot, and well, not only is it more competitive, schools look for different things. Or did it portend something? I am not one of those people who believes that everything happens for a reason. I believe we create our own reasons to justify and explain our world, but perhaps Stanford wasn’t the best choice for me in the end. I’ll never know for sure, but I don’t have any regrets with that application.

And yet I still have these tough knots in my stomach. I can’t unclench. I’ve spent so many months in this perpetual state of anxiety that I have completely forgotten what it’s like to let go. Slow I’ve been opening up, one little knuckle at a time, and the relief is more and more profound.

Yale has become my top choice, but I have been too superstitious to say so out loud. I didn’t want to jinx anything, but there you have it, I am so into Yale. My visit brought together something I hadn’t seen at other schools: a diverse community devoted to social impact, familiar geography and landscape (I know, right, how banal!), warm and generous staff and students, and a gorgeous new building.

So now I move forward, likely putting my deposit into Yale in the next month. Yes, I’m still waiting to hear from Kellogg and Berkeley, but having an admit under my belt has taken the pressure off. I still really love Kellogg and if I get in, it will be hard to say no to Chicago. But at the end of the day, the experiences on Yale’s campus blew me away. Where does Berkeley stand in all this? I don’t know. They haven’t wooed me at all, and I’m wondering if the future is bleak over there.

I may not be fully unwound, but now that I’m out of the pressure cooker, I can finally breathe like I’ve been telling myself for the past month. To those of you still waiting, I don’t have any good advice. Suffer through it and know that “this too will pass.” If nothing else it will make you insanely grateful for the acceptance. Because lordy, it is a good feeling!

Sassafras is a 29-year-old MBA applicant who works for a San Francisco-based non-profit organization with a primary focus on youth development and education. With a 730 GMAT and a 3.4 grade point average from a highly ranked liberal arts college, he currently blogs at MBA: My Break Away? His previous posts for Poets&Quants:


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