The fall of a spring admit

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I’ve always been a fan of the fall — Halloween and crunchy leaves and shorter days. Winter holds a special place in my heart, too, because it smells like freshly baked cookies and sounds like the zipping of coats. Summer, on the other hand, has never been in my good graces. Where I’m from, summer tastes like dry heat and feels like a long layover. But for whatever reason, spring usually faded into the background of my mind, slipping under the radar. I never really gave spring much thought until it changed my life.

OK, technically the season of spring itself didn’t change my life — but being a spring admit to UC Berkeley did. When I got the email that admissions decisions for the Class of 2021 had been released, I checked my admissions portal immediately. What was waiting for me was a solid “maybe” and, weirdly, in that moment “maybe” felt more heartbreaking than “no.”

Looking back on it, I realized that I was a little crushed at the prospect of the waitlist because it meant, as the name implies, more waiting. So I wrote a brutally honest waitlist essay and waited a few more months for that swift, cold rejection — but strangely, amazingly it never came. When the second round of admissions decisions was released, I found that I had been accepted to UC Berkeley with one stipulation — I was a spring admit, meaning I would begin school in January 2018 instead of August 2017.

Naturally, after reading this bit of fine print, I was a little disappointed. All throughout high school I had been dreaming of the day I would go off to college — but I always planned on that day being in the fall after graduation. Being a spring admit didn’t fit that plan, and because I am a Virgo and a big fan of planning, it was more than a little jarring. Nonetheless, UC Berkeley was my dream school, my way-beyond-reach school, and when it said “yes,” I definitely wasn’t going to say “no.”

As a spring admit, I was given plenty of options regarding how I could spend my fall semester, including opportunities such as Global Edge and Fall Program for Freshmen. Instead, I did what made most sense for me both personally and financially — I took three community college classes, worked 19 hours a week, and waited patiently for Jan. 11, 2018.

As it turns out, fall wasn’t as miserable as I believed it would be. Work and school kept me busy and the extra months I got to spend with my family were nice, but throughout the whole semester, I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that I was missing out. It’s stupid, but during the fall’s Golden Bear Orientation, the rest of the incoming students packed into the football stadium and made the world’s biggest letter C out of their bodies, and I was irrationally bummed about not being part of that world record. I knew that it probably took hours and it was probably hot and kind of miserable but I definitely didn’t care. The drone shot of that huge letter C just reminded me of where I wasn’t, and it was more frustrating than I’d like to admit.

Like most prolonged periods of waiting, the fall semester seemed like it was going to last forever. In the beginning, it was slow — almost stagnant — and the four months ahead felt impossibly eternal. But then, all at once, it was over. Finals, my last day of work and Christmas all passed, and suddenly, mercifully, it was the new year. And 11 days later, I started a new life.

Overall, the fall semester of 2017 felt like being a little stuck, but mostly hopeful. No matter how bleak everything seemed at times, I knew what was waiting for me on the other side of the new year — it was just a matter of getting there. If anything, the waitlist and then the waiting just made actually coming to UC Berkeley all the more sweet. I got here and I very quickly realized that the wait was more than worth it. I’d do it all again if I had to.

So before, spring didn’t really mean much to me. It was the time of year that didn’t bear any weight in my mind. But now, spring will always remind me of change, and the really beautiful kind — the kind that makes the world feel new and makes you grow as a person. And for that, spring might just be my new favorite season.

Contact Madelyn Peterson at [email protected]