Why I Chose Yale: A Coin-Toss

cassandra holding up yale

2pm PT. March 30, 2017. I remember it all so clearly: an empty, slightly echoey grand hallway. Me, sitting on the ground, back leaning against a pillar. My phone and my computer propped up on my lap. I was at an arts camp senior year away from home, Facetiming my mom.

I was going to open my college acceptance letters.

A nervous pit grew in my stomach. With shaking hands I logged into each of the systems.




I couldn’t see through the tears. My mom was crying too–we were laughing breathlessly and smiling like mad. And finally, it was time for the last letter. For some reason, I had left Yale for last. I held my breath when suddenly, a cute bulldog danced its way across my screen. My family and I couldn’t believe it: I had gotten into every school I had applied to.

acceptance letter

There are no words to describe the opportunities that lay before me. The next few weeks were a whirlwind of celebrations with my friends and family, and of course the question: “Where are you going to go?” And to be perfectly honest with you, I didn’t know. I was at a loss, faced with the most insane and best dilemna. I was simultaneously thrilled and petrified at what the future held for me. The weight of my decision knowing my options sat heavy on my shoulders.

I visited several colleges in the next month. At one point I had been away from home for the third consecutive weekend in a row that I started crying on another college’s campus, feeling homesick, utterly alone and abandoned. Students there were too busy to stop and care. What should have felt like an exciting bright future instead felt cold and clinical.

I remember my eyes welling up at Yale though, for a different reason. In the dark of the Trumbull residential college theater, sitting next to a student I had just met an hour ago who impulsively invited me to a cultural show–I started to tear up, moved by the display of art, culture, and community of cheering students around me. The rest of Bulldog Saturday was a blur of meeting the kindest students, attending out-of-this-world master seminars, and lots (I repeat, LOTS) of free food.

cassandra visiting yale
Cassandra at Bulldog Saturday. How much she has grown since then!

When I finally returned home from all my college tours, I was still unsure of my decision. I told one of my teachers about my uncertainty.

My teacher pulled out a coin.

“Oh no,” I said, backing away.

“Oh yes,” he said, and positioned it on his thumb. “This isn’t determining your fate. When I reveal it, you have to tell me your gut reaction. And that will help you see what you really want.”

He flicked his thumb. The coin flew up, catching the fluorescent light. It flipped three times in the air and suddenly, I knew what I wanted it to land on.

I saw myself standing on Old Campus, bumping into friends on the purposely zig-zaggy paths.

I remembered the kindness of students who helped me navigate campus on Bulldog Saturday, who asked me if I needed help before I even asked.

I pictured a community of artists putting up original work and celebrating diversity.

I glimpsed life on campus and how it felt like I could be at home picnicking in courtyards, gazing at Gothic architecture, enjoying the finest food in the dining halls.

I heard Yale calling my name, and when that coin landed on tails, relief and sheer happiness flooded my body. I told my teacher how I felt. He grinned and told me when I click the accept button, he’ll say, I told you so.

I’ve never had a single moment regretting hitting that Accept button. Yale was everything I pictured and so much more. It’s hard to put into words what this place now means to me–but maybe some of my blogs have in part captured what it’s like to be a Bulldog. Since calling Yale “home,” I’ve taken the most amazing classes, joined a cultural club, pursued dance, created original theater, adapted to the cold (and learned to love it), partied on the Yale farm, and perfected my scooter tricks. To incoming frosh–I hope that you’ll choose Yale. And once you’re here on campus, I can’t wait to hear the story behind you clicking Accept.