March Madness of a different kind

The arrival of April 1 also brings final college decisions. Let me be the first to say, it has been a wild ride. The Class of 2021 knew that college applications were going to be like nothing ever before. But surges of applications at Top 50 universities have created what colleges are calling the "most competitive applicant pool in history." March Madness took on a whole new term in my household.

The Round of 64: If you were like me and applied early to a handful of schools, we began hearing verdicts in late December. I and many others found deferrals to Regular Decision were more common than acceptances.

Creighton was a 5 seed heading into their first round playing UCSB, a 12 seed. While history has shown many the 5-12 upset, it was a little close for comfort as Creighton narrowly won 63-62 and advanced to the next round. Our deferrals got us into the Round of 32 - but would we continue our journeys?

The Round of 32: Where the deferrals piled up to meet the regular decision applications. For me, this is where most of my "reach schools" resided. After hearing back from one of my top schools, I was shocked to learn I had gotten in. With over 75,000 applicants, they announced an all time low acceptance rate: 18 percent. I was an underdog going into the game, competing with kids who had higher GPAs and probably slept even less than I did. Still, something from my application pushed me into the accepted pile.

Many expected Illinois to go all the way to the NCAA Championship. But when facing Loyola Chicago in the Round of 32, something happened that shocked fans and busted millions of brackets. Loyola won 71-58.

The Sweet Sixteen: Coming off of my victory, I hoped to be greeted by more good news. However, over the course of 24 hours, I was waitlisted from two target schools and denied from three reaches.

Sister Jean's faith carried Loyola Chicago into the Sweet Sixteen. But how long would the Nun have her run? No. 12 Oregon State ended up bringing the second iteration of Loyola's Cinderella story to a screeching halt with a score of 65-58.

Predictions: Nevertheless, the team that fights the hardest ultimately will end up the NCAA champion. Even if it isn't Michigan, like I had predicted, I know it will be the right team.

Whether I end up at the school who granted me my own Cinderella story or follow in the footsteps of my brother, I know I will end up at the perfect place for me.

- Alegra Waverley, a senior at Hinsdale Central, is a

contributing columnist.