Dear Faisal,

Thank you for applying to the University of California, Irvine. Unfortunately, we are not able to offer you admission at this time for Fall 2020. However, your application is strong and we want to provide you the opportunity to be included on the waitlist.

To place your name on the waitlist, complete the Statement of Intent to Participate (SIP) no later than May 15, 2020. Notification of UCI waitlist decisions will be sent between May and late summer.

While waiting to receive our waitlist decision, we recommend you not miss the deadlines at other colleges/universities.

Again, thank you for your interest in UCI. We wish you every success in achieving your educational goals.

Undergraduate Admission

When I enrolled at IVC in the fall of 2017, I had one goal in mind – transfer to UCI, and graduate with a B.S. in Computer Science.

My life hasn’t really deviated that much since then. The routine has been fairly simple: Wake up, work out, go to work, go to school, come back home to grab a bite to eat before bed, rinse and repeat. I have many driving factors that keep me disciplined, and one of them was seeing myself attending UCI as a computer science student and graduating with my bachelors.

Needless to say, this letter from UCI Admissions stung. You see, this is how I read the letter:

Dear Faisal,

Thank you for applying to the University of California, Irvine. Unfortunately, we don’t find you to be intellectually capable enough to enroll in our Computer Science Department. However, some actually intelligent students who we admitted might not choose UCI over UC Berkeley or UCLA, so we’ve decided to put you down as a “Maybe”.

Undergraduate Admission

I get it. I came out of Irvine Valley College with a GPA of 3.71. I could have brought my grades up.

IVC students who transfer into the Computer Science department at UCI also tend to do poorly in the introductory Python and C++ programming classes, so that probably doesn’t bode too well for my application. I could have taken more programming classes at other community colleges.

I also didn’t enroll in the Honors program when I enrolled at IVC – thinking that if I got the easy A’s in regular classes, I could spend a lot more time at work and doing other things I enjoyed. In reality, enrolling in the Honors program would have been such a small sacrifice to make, and would have made my chances getting admitted into UCI that much greater. I should have enrolled in the Honors program from the beginning.

I find myself extremely frustrated. I’m angry that Computer Science is becoming exponentially more competitive every year, and that my work experience did not translate as high as I thought it would on determining my admission. I’m also angry that there are so many things I could have done better. I could have had a better GPA, taken programming classes at different colleges, and done the Honors track. I wish I could go back in time.

Oh well. It’s like they say – don’t dwell on the past. Instead, look towards the future. It’s such a simple saying, but here’s what I’ve actually done to improve my mood:

Look at the Positives

I got waitlisted – not rejected. Sure, with a flat out rejection I’d know for certain I will not be attending UCI, whereas a waitlist is kind of like the university dangling a carrot in front of you that you most likely will never reach. But being waitlisted is at least a way of saying “Hey, we think you might be fit to be a potential candidate”. It’s something I guess.

I also got waitlisted at UCSD. I thought for sure I’d be rejected there, but I guess you never know with these things. I put down my alternate major for Data Science, so maybe they’d be considering that if they are to let me off the waitlist. Who knows – I guess only their admissions office does.

Being waitlisted at one school sucks. Being waitlisted at two schools however – well, now we’ve got ourselves a numbers game.

Planning for Now and the Future

I’m waitlisted at UCI and UCSD. Those are the facts. For the sake of my emotions, I’m putting myself in the headspace where I’ll be attending IVC for an additional year, and then reapplying for fall 2021. Now that I’ve finished my general education requirements, I can spend a lot more time taking Major Preparation courses – AKA more math and lower level computer science courses. Also, I plan on including backup schools in my application for next year – I’ll add UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, and Cal State Fullerton to my list of backups. If I do end up getting off the waitlist for either schools, I’ll be ecstatic. But like I said, for the sake of my emotions, I probably need to put myself in the worst-case-scenario headspace.

Closing Thoughts

I know this isn’t a technical post, but I did learn something here. Sometimes you can create a future plan that is too narrow. If it doesn’t end up going your way, you need to regroup, remind yourself that you’re worth something, and create multiple plans for the future so that you have options incase things go wrong. I’m sure this is not the first time I’m going to encounter something like this in life. Heck, I’ve seen this with the job market. You can’t put all your eggs in one basket. Life is a numbers game. You do your best, shoot your shot a bunch of times, and who knows – you might make something happen.

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