Life isn’t about college

A good post written by Whitneylm at the forums.

I’ve been thinking for a while, now that I’m finally past the college application process (and in the waiting part) and this one thought has been pestering me. I attend a notoriously successful school district full of high achieving kids who have high dreams and high aspirations. But, at the same time, I hear these kids furiously debating over which extracurricular activity is “better” for college and which one will give them “the leg up”. I watch them take schedules and classes that they are absolutely miserable in and stretch themselves to the point of utter exhaustion just to appear “good” in the eyes of various admissions reps. Then I watch them shell out thousands of dollars for SAT prep and vigorously take and retake the tests.

Out of all of this, I’m left wondering how good of a “fit” the college will be for them. After all, they have done very few things for their own growth or enjoyment. They have done few things that leave them happy and satisfied.

I was always under the impression you needed to appear totally honest in front of the adcom, that you needed to really get in touch with your strengths before you picked a college. I know, personally, I did some things that made people cringe. Everyone had high high hopes for me (read: Ivy League Schools, Top LACs, etc.). Then they freaked out. First when I dropped out of National Honor Society to spend more time on my first true love (theatre tech). Then when I opted to take community college classes over the few AP classes I hadn’t taken because I’d all but finished the AP set at my high school and really would rather take the community college classes because I liked them. Then I really got flack when I “settled” with a 29 ACT score and a 1330 SAT score because I was incredibly sick winter/spring/summer of my Junior year and didn’t have the money to shell out for prep classes and am TERRIBLE at multiple choice tests (I’m in the crew that wishes I had the essay part). People constantly mentioned I should get into clubs that would look better (lets ignore the fact I literally spend all my free time in theatre) or that I ought to put in some sports to look more well rounded (I tried them in tenth grade and they really didn’t jive with me) or that dropping band after three years would be death to my apps (I had to drop it to take core classes I liked… but I continue taking private lessons on my flute). Basically, everyone was telling me to change who I was so I’d fit the sort of person that gets into really competitive schools.

And I didn’t choose to. I still applied to Whitman and Reed, anyway. Perhaps I did the wrong thing…

I’m not condemming people who do this, I say good for them if they get what they really want. But I guess I’m just confused when I watch my friends stress themselves and force themselves to be what they aren’t just so they can look “better” on an app. It seems sort of counter-intuitive to me…

2 Responses to “Life isn’t about college”

  1. Luke says:

    Wow, that’s a lot of insight into life right there. I only wish I had fully realized it while I was in high school. Instead I waited until end of junior and beginning of senior year before I began to take that to heart. I’ve especially taken that to heart while in college. Become the person I want to be…and deal with the consequences that might bring up as time goes on.

  2. Katy says:

    While I generally agree with that post, there is something to be said about doing things purposedly to beef up your app. Left to human nature, a student may be too lazy to do community work. Doing it for the app gets the student to try something that he may not normally do, and he may even find he likes it. Also, you should give it your best shot to get into the most competitive schools because it opens up choices. After they accept you, then you can decide if it is a good fit. If you don’t even get accepted, you don’t even have a choice to find out if it is right for you.

    I wish someone had coached me and maybe I would’ve had a shot at selective schools (notice I didn’t say they are better schools).

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