I remember it like yesterday. There I was, innocently walking down the hall of my high school. Suddenly, I spotted the college guidance counselor. Apparently, she spotted me as well, because she said, “Avigail, just the person I was looking for. The principal would like to see you in her office.” Now, mind you, in my nearly four years of high school, I hadn’t had much occasion to visit the principal’s office. I did my homework, followed the rules, and generally tried to stay out of trouble. What on earth could the principal want from me?

I found out soon enough. The guidance counselor quickly escorted me down the halls, and I found myself seated on the other side of the principal’s desk, while the guidance counselor took a seat off to the side. The principal cleared her throat and began. “Avigail.” She paused. “Avigail, we’ve been speaking with the principals of the seminaries you applied to, and you’re not on the top of anyone’s list.”

My mind processed her words in slow motion. Not on the top of anyone’s list? The principal wouldn’t be calling me into her office to tell me that I was a school’s fifth choice. No, she meant I was at the bottom. They had all rejected me.

The principal kept talking, but I wished she would stop, because it was getting hard to hold back my tears, and I didn’t want to cry in front of her. Finally, I was allowed to leave. The guidance counselor took me back to her office. As I sat down, the tears I had been holding in until then burst forth. How could this have happened? Of all 98 girls in the grade, why me? How could I be the biggest reject?

I thought back to those fateful interviews. The careful thought that had gone into picking the schools, writing the essays, filling out the forms. Doing mock interviews beforehand. Getting dressed for the big day. The dread of being face-to-face with those mighty seminary principals, who seemed to hold my destiny in their hands.

There was the first interview. My parents drove me to some obscure location where the seminary interview was being held. We managed to get lost a few times before locating the correct address. My parents took a seat in the waiting area. I made my way into the inner chamber, and sat before the principal. She glanced at me, and asked, “Are you the oldest in your family?” That wasn’t such a tough question. I could handle that. I confidently answered that I’m the fourth. “Why did both of your parents bring you?” she inquired, eying me shrewdly. Let’s just say the rest of the interview didn’t go too well.

Then there was the next interview. I went with a group of my friends from high school. It was the school of choice for most of my chevreh. When it was my turn, I sat down with the principal. He asked me for the names of my friends. Naturally, most of them were applying to his school. Somehow that meant something to him. After a few more questions, he assured me that I hadn’t messed up my interview. I wasn’t quite sure how to take that. (Excerpted from Teen Pages, Issue 685)