New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

I got into NYU! On the second try

Although my journey getting into NYU was filled with uncertainty, I learned that my initial rejection was just redirection.
Julia Smerling
(Julia Smerling for WSN)

When I first applied to NYU in 2019 as a senior in high school, I was rejected. As a 17-year-old who dreamed about attending the university for years, I was crushed. Two years later, though, I was accepted as a transfer student from College of the Canyons, a community college in Santa Clarita, California, and now that I’m about to graduate, I still wouldn’t change a thing. 

With an 8% acceptance rate that has become increasingly lower in recent years, NYU is one of the most selective schools in the country. For the admissions cycle of the class of 2027, the university rejected more than 110,400 applicants. As decisions for the class of 2028 were released recently, more hopeful students just received their rejection letters, too.

I originally applied to the Stern School of Business as a Marketing major. Given that NYU was my top pick, I applied Early Decision I to increase my chances of acceptance. I was attracted to Stern’s prestigious reputation as one of the top business schools in the country. Plus, its location in a city I’ve long dreamed of living in made NYU an ideal choice for me. When my rejection letter came in mid-December 2019, I wasn’t surprised that I got rejected, but I was still disappointed. It felt like all the hard work that I put in during high school fell down the drain. 

A few months later, I graduated high school. I originally committed to Indiana University Bloomington, but because of the pandemic, I decided to rescind my commitment to the school and attend community college instead. I took as many classes as I could and got a 4.0 while actively volunteering for three political campaigns. Though I was nervous that NYU could reject me again, I decided to apply anyway. I submitted my NYU transfer application to the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development’s Media, Culture, and Communication program in February 2021, having no idea what the results could be. 

No matter how many YouTube videos I watched or blogs I read about how to get into NYU, I still thought everything I was doing was wrong. I was freaking out the whole time during both application processes, especially the second time around. Even though this wasn’t my first time going through the college application process, I still had no idea how to write my personal essay or what NYU was looking for in its admitted students. 

My future seemed uncertain as I awaited my decision. While I applied to other schools besides NYU, many questions ran through my mind: What if I don’t get in anywhere? If I do get accepted somewhere, how am I going to afford it? What if I’m stuck in my hometown forever? 

But in May 2021, I finally got the acceptance letter my 17-year-old self dreamed of. Knowing I only had three years at NYU compared to four, I wanted to make the most of it. During my time here, I studied abroad in Paris for a semester, worked two internships, wrote and copy edited for WSN, became a Transfer Welcome Ambassador over the summer, learned from very cool professors, figured out what I wanted to do with my career, fell in love with the comedy scene and met the girls who will probably be my future bridesmaids. 

That being said, my NYU experience was not all cupcakes and rainbows. Transferring to such a huge school was intimidating and I was afraid I would never find my community here. Working as a Transfer Welcome Ambassador was a full-circle moment for me, and though I only held that position for a brief period, I hoped I was able to ease any anxious feelings other transfers may have felt. 

Eventually, it all worked out and I was able to have a truly unique college experience that I feel not many other students get to have. While it sucked being rejected initially, I don’t think I would have thrived as a Stern student anyway, and the MCC program ended up being a better fit for my goals.

My mantra in life is that everything happens for a reason. Going through the transfer process, I was so uncertain about my future and what my college career could look like. It made me want to rip out my hair sometimes, but that uncertainty is so necessary. You aren’t growing if you’re not uncomfortable. 

I’m not sure what my life would have been like if I had been accepted into NYU for the first time I applied, or even attended another university, but I know that my college experience would have been completely different. Of course, no one likes rejection. It can feel like the end of the world when you get denied from your dream school, especially when you spent four years working hard to get there. But rejection is just redirection. Whether it’s a college application or preparing for Graduate Record Examinations, you could always try again. And who knows? Maybe you’ll end up back at NYU.

Contact Liz Lindain at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Julia Smerling
Julia Smerling, Photo Editor
Julia Smerling is a first-year studying photography and imaging, and is one of WSN’s Photo Editors. She is from West Palm Beach, Florida, and you can find her writing poetry, overly obsessing about films, painting art on jeans and always having her headphones on. Also, she’s secretly Peter Parker. You can reach her on Instagram @juliasmerling or her art account @jul3sarchive (where mostly her mom hypes her up and likes her posts so please give it a look — it's becoming embarrassing at this point.)

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  • P

    Peter WrampeApr 4, 2024 at 9:44 am

    Thanks for sharing such an inspiration!

    Life is full of teaching moments. Your statement that “Rejection is just Redirection” hit the nail on the head.

    You lived up to “non te molere” !!! Good for you!!

  • C

    ClaraApr 4, 2024 at 9:44 am

    Congratulations in getting into your dream school. That shows grit and in life, that counts for SO much. Grit is not only “stick-to-it-ness” but you picked yourself up, got a fabulous GPA, did tons of active volunteer activity that is relevant to your major. NYU is proud of you and will continue to be proud of you as you graduate and do good work as an alumna!