When I first logged into the website to check my admittance status to UF, the first word I read was “congratulations”. I immediately texted my family members and friends the good news. However when I went back to the letter just shortly after to finish reading what it said, my heart almost dropped. I read the part I missed, “….into the Pathway to Campus Enrollment Program,” and felt a whirlwind of emotions.

Pathway to Campus Enrollment? Does that mean I can’t technically attend UF? After researching more on the program, I realized that it did allow me to live in Gainesville and participate in university activities. The only restrictions were living on campus, and taking in-person classes.

When I told people I got accepted into PaCE, many people would say to me, “Out of everybody, I was SURE you were going to get in.” Didn’t I get in though? Other students in my high school who also received a PaCE admission would denounce the program. They said they’d never do it and acted like it was the worse offer in all of history, and space time and continuum. But that’s high school — dramatic.

I compared myself to everyone I knew who got in traditionally. My essay was personal, my SAT scores were higher than theirs, and I did way more extracurriculars than them. How could I work so hard only to have others who I know for a fact didn’t, get handed an acceptance? This really ate away at me.

The only schools I applied to were UF, FSU, and UF, because out-of-state would have been too expensive. However, I knew I couldn’t see myself at FSU or UCF. The journalism program at UF blows both of the other universities out of the water. I was left with a decision. Take a risk and ultimately have an odd college experience, or sacrifice my goals of attending UF?

Well, I bet you know what choice I made by now. But it was a hard one, for sure. My best friend was also offered PaCE, but she ultimately attended FSU. Many people from my high school would choose their college based on where their friends were going, but my best friend and I understood each other’s individuals wants and needs.

The offer to do PaCE didn’t even used to say congratulations. The first letters of acceptance sent out for the program began with something like, “We regret to inform you…” and then ended with something like, “But we can offer you this!”

Despite this, I don’t think PaCE is a rejection. It’s an opportunity. A peer told me when they were deciding themselves about whether to do PaCE, a teacher said to them, “You’re being offered to get an education at one of the best universities in the nation and you’re going to turn it down because you’re afraid?”

I went into it thinking that being in PaCE put me below other students. That maybe, we weren’t as “smart” because we weren’t given traditional admission. Everyone I know however, is extremely motivated and often even more involved than traditional students. The people who accept this program are ones that know what they want, who truly love the University of Florida, and will quite literally do anything to be here.
At the end of the day, PaCE students can join the same clubs, attend the same sporting events, and even have the same diplomas as traditional students. If this is what rejection is, it’s the sweetest one yet.