My bride-to-be brought the envelope fairly casually across the parking lot back to our 550 sq. ft. one bedroom apartment at the time to hand deliver it to me. It was from another medical school.
Earlier this week I listened to a story on NPR about the college admissions process. One young woman told of the tease of receiving a letter notifying her of being on the wait list which arrived in a large “Yes, you got in” envelope while a young man had the opposite experience of receiving notification of this limbo state in the form of a “No, you didn’t get in” sized envelope. I couldn't help but mentally go back to the days when I waited anxiously for that envelope thirteen years ago. So many hopes and dreams placed on the size of the envelope.
She handed me the piece of mail apart from the rest of the mail without any fanfare since it was another small standard letter sized envelope. We had seen many of these before, and I do mean many. This was my fourth year applying to medical school and mentally I decided it would probably be my last. If I didn't get in this time it was time to move on. I had received dozens of mailers for podiatric schools, osteopathic schools, and international medical schools, and at least up to that point, had not chosen to to apply to any of those for a variety of reasons. Perhaps it was time to reconsider. I was working as a clinical lab tech in microbiology and was good at it and enjoyed it, perhaps that was my true calling.
She handed me the envelope of small size and I noticed it was one which wait-listed me the year prior. My interview this year had gone well, but then I always thought they went well. It was a good school and was somewhat surprised I had made it so far in the admissions process with them, since I had been denied even an interview at far less prestigious.
I opened the envelope preparing myself for another bad outcome and noticed there was more than just a single piece of paper stuffed inside. My hands worked a little faster to get out all of this paperwork. "How many pieces of paper do they need to reject me?" I asked myself.
"...We would like to offer you a place in our class of 2001..." and with that it had all ended. Four years of rejection, uncertainty, and examining envelope size went away. I hugged my fiance and started to cry. Up to that point in my life there had been no happier day.
That ended up being the only medical school I was accepted to and as I look back I wouldn't have wanted to go anywhere else. I had a chance to do big city medicine for four years at a medical school which focused on training strong clinicians who knew how to take care of patients. The one medical school which chose me happened to be the perfect one for me.
Envelope size, hah. Hadn't thought about that for a long time now.