Reflecting on College Apps: A Rant
Part Two of the NewsBreaker's segment on the college application process. This time from a student's perspective.
October 21, 2016
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It’s the time of the year where many seniors are finally forced to think about the answers to the question their relatives, teachers, and pretty much everyone else has been asking them: “So, what do you think you’ll do after high school?”
Any senior will tell you that the college application process is rigorous at best, and soul sucking at worst. The expectation that four years of juggling academics and extracurriculars has taught students enough time management skills to balance the demanding process is not always true, especially for those students who are accustomed to their nightly Netflix regime. However, even those committed to take a break from their steady relationship with Grey’s Anatomy or Orange is the New Black struggle to get through the process without losing hair, sleep, or sanity.
So, what do these colleges want? It’s the age old question that haunts the applicants staring at their rough drafts in frustration, sacrificing their lives to CollegeBoard, and desperately trying to swing an A by the end of the semester. The “typical,” but more like “intimidating and seemingly perfect,” student profile can be found on the website of any college. In general, this admittee has at least a 4.0, plays varsity on several sports, has founded their own organization, has at least 200 hours of community service, and apparently doesn’t sleep. Who has the unlimited time or boundless energy to fulfill the expectations of these colleges? And perhaps more importantly, how do colleges differentiate between those who participate because they want to, rather than because they want good resumes?
I pose these questions to the seniors reflecting on their life experiences and desperately trying to glean meaning from them, or summarize the lessons they have learned from specific events. The dreaded college essays cause many seniors to turn to the CSUs (whose applications are devoid of writing prompts), hissing in fear at having to justify what they’ve done over the last seventeen years in a 500 word prompt. Although these essays provide the students with a chance to show some personality, they also invoke a fear that that the desired personality won’t come through clearly or strongly enough.
So, whether you’re an upperclassman reading this article in hopes that it will somehow answer to your prayers for salvation (in which case, stay strong) or an underclassman now shaking in anticipation of what lies ahead (oh, you just wait) or even a student lucky enough to somehow have completed the application process (we all envy you) — I commend you for your efforts and wish you the best of luck in the college process.