Senior Reflection: Why I Lied


The pressure on Ann Arbor students to get into UM is real: “I wish I didn’t feel like I had to lie” Credit: J. Simonte.

I’ve lived in Ann Arbor my entire life. All six of my father’s siblings went to the University of Michigan, as did my grandfather, our family friends, and their parents. Every alumnus is beyond proud to have once walked the diag, visiting for football games, taking impromptu tours, and wearing exclusively “Michigan parent ” merch unironically. 

When I started my college search, I had absolutely no desire to attend Michigan. I wanted to get out of the town I spent eighteen years of my life in. I never thought my family’s opinion would play a big part in my decision, but I underestimated how badly I craved their approval. And as much as I tried to fight it, I couldn’t ignore the practicality of Michigan: distance, price, and program specialties. I quickly began obsessing over it and told anyone who would listen that, 

“Michigan is my top choice!”

After it was announced that decisions would come out the last Friday of January, I locked myself in my room and tried to ignore the approaching deadline. When the day came, I squatted in front of my computer promptly at 2:58 and logged into the student portal. When the clock chimed 3:00, I refreshed rapidly until I saw a “new message” notice. I opened my inbox, and was quickly humbled by the deferral in front of me. 

“Dear Ms Simonte,

We regret to inform you…”

The daunting “We regret to inform you.” Do they really regret it? 


I went through all five stages of grief within the first hour of opening my letter: Am I reading this right? X person doesn’t even know how to make scrambled eggs, how did they get in and not me? Michigan doesn’t know what they lost – or maybe they do? Why did I think I could get in? Obviously I need to try harder. I’m not taking my future seriously enough. I slacked off in math last year; I could have studied more for the unit five test. It’s okay, I’ll drop out of school and move to the Virgin Islands. Perfect.

Later that night, I ultimately told my parents the truth, warmed by their reassurance, but devastated because I thought I had failed them. Still, I couldn’t stop myself from thinking what other people would say. My uncle would be so ashamed. My classmates probably saw this coming. I let my aunt down. 

The following Monday at school when it was time to be bombarded with “did you get in” and “where are you going” questions, I succumbed to the pressure. I didn’t want to embarrass myself. The words fell out of my mouth almost seamlessly. I’m a good actor; I didn’t flinch, sweat, or bat an eye as I so blatantly lied: 

“I applied regular decision, so I don’t know.”

I wish I could say I didn’t know what I was doing. That I panicked in the moment and spit out words I didn’t mean. The truth is, I knew exactly what I was doing. I knew exactly what I had to do the moment I opened my letter, I knew I had to keep it to myself; this decision confirmed my insecurities and what I thought everyone was already thinking about me: stupid, lazy, coddled. 

After a few days of pity parties, I gradually started to think there was hope for the other college’s I’d applied to even if I didn’t get into Michigan. That is, until they all sent out their decision letters. The confidence I had spent the past two months rebuilding quickly crumbled as I was belittled by every letter I opened: George Washington University, “waitlisted,” American University, “waitlisted,” New York University, “waitlisted,” Northwestern, “rejected,” The University of Michigan, “waitlisted.” Yet again, I was at a stalemate. 

At this point, almost everyone in my graduating class knew where they were going, and the senior activities were on full blast: 

“Decision Day! Seniors, wear your college apparel and flaunt your school pride.”

“Seniors! Submit your college decisions to the Skyline Seniors Instagram.”

“I can’t wait to make an Instagram story for you when you decide where you’re going.”

I couldn’t handle the social pressure and quickly, the selfish habits that plagued me in January crept back. 

“Bella, where are you going?”

“The truth is, I’m going to Michigan!”

“The truth is, I’m going to Syracuse!”

“The truth is, I’m taking a gap year to travel!”

 The truth is, I don’t have the slightest idea what I’m doing. 

I wish I didn’t feel like I had to lie. I wish I didn’t feel like I have to avoid everyone for the rest of my life. And I wish more than anything that I could tell people who are struggling with college admissions that I learned from my mistakes. But, yet again, I would be lying. 

I shouldn’t have lied about my acceptances, just as I shouldn’t have felt like I had to. Wherever I end up will not only be the college that’s best for me, but also my news to share, on my own terms, and in my own words.