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It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get back up. 

After applying to the University of Georgia, you usually receive one of two responses: the coveted, “Dear applicant, we are pleased to inform you of your admission to the UGA,” or the dreaded, “We regret to inform you … ,” that poorly softens the blow of rejection.

My freshman year, I got the latter.

I had to realize that I was not a failure. UGA freshman acceptance is competitive: First-year student admission is around 48%, meaning that less than half of applicants are admitted the first time around.

Requirements for transfers are less rigorous than those for incoming freshmen, resulting in a transfer applicant acceptance rate of 75.63%, according to CampusReel. That meant if I played my cards right, going to UGA was still a very real possibility.

I won’t sugarcoat it. Dealing with rejection and spending a year at my backup school was gut-wrenching. UGA was my dream school. If I couldn’t have it, I didn’t want anything. I didn’t like the alternative options so I made myself miserable.

Rather than establish myself at my temporary college, I came home every weekend. I absolutely loved the freedoms of being on campus, but there was still a piece of me that longed to be at home. I struggled being away from what was familiar. Now I realize that I was missing out on becoming my own person.

While I made friends, I know our connections would have been stronger had I been on campus more often. Ultimately, I missed out on vital college experiences and developing myself as an adult.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, do as I say, not as I did. Don’t do yourself the same disservice.

The most controversial “college things” that scare incoming freshmen are random room assignments and community bathrooms. I was one of the people completely against community bathrooms. Once I was actually in one, it wasn’t so bad. Most of the time, nobody else was in there when I was. I still felt like I had some privacy. I even felt comfortable enough to dye my hair pink in the community bathroom — more than once.

As for random roommates, I say go for it. My roommate and I were complete strangers. Within the first week, we did everything together. She was my backbone many times when I needed a shoulder to cry on.

Not only was I best friends with my roommate, but I also became close with people in my classes. I have many freshman year memories inside and outside of the classroom. Connecting with classmates is crucial because it makes courses more enjoyable and gives you a support system outside of class.

On the academic side, I really loved my introductory business class. I learned valuable resume tips and interviewing and researching skills that I would not trade for the world. The class empowered me to feel confident in what I have to offer both myself and employers.

Although I struggled my freshman year, it was worth it in the end. A year later, everything has paid off.

I’m a junior journalism major, a public affairs communications certificate student and contributor to The Red & Black. I have two internships waiting for me this fall. Things that I never anticipated are happening because I waited and the timing was right.

My advice for freshmen Bulldogs is to challenge yourself. Do things that are new to you. Do things you’re scared of — and it’s okay to be scared while doing it! Maybe you’ll surprise yourself and love it. If you’re feeling sad or homesick, that’s normal. Find something new around campus that brings you comfort.

If you can’t find anything, find joy in the uncomfortable. Trust me, it’s temporary. Athens will feel like home in no time. There is a place for you at UGA, and I promise you will find it.