As it’s likely that most of my senior class will go on to college, that seems to be the theme of the year. The question asked by parents’ friends is no longer, “Well what grade are you in now?” but instead “So, what are you thinking about for college?” Or rather, if they choose to be vague and polite, “Are you thinking about plans for next year?”
If my response goes over well with them, I feel a rush of exhilaration and anticipation. If roughly, I feel the blows: my top schools rejected by pursed lips and loyalty to far superior schools.
First of all, what determines a good school? Everyone has a little superficiality within them. A prestigious reputation, not to mention classic brick buildings and lawns littered with maple trees, is enough for us to pause and say, “Well, on second thought… .” But more important are issues of personal needs, individual learning style, shyness or openness, academic specialties, weather tolerance, etc., etc. Some students are bound to ignore this, and therein lies my greatest fear: Some kid will take my sot at the college just right for me because she thought the campus looked pretty online.
How ironic it is that although a school is the most important part of the college application process, the application itself is the most memorable. Through essays and GPA’s students attempt to strike confident, even arrogant, postures, but we are all at the most vulnerable state of our student lives. We worry, “What if that one institution that fits me so perfectly just doesn’t accept me?”
What if. But that thought must be put aside, and we are left to our attempts to attract and beguile, pencil in one hand and transcript in the other.
The best way for me to understand the situation is through an analogy my mom’s friend made at the beginning of my college search: If a career in life is the main dish, college is only the side dish. So, asparagus hollandaise is great, but even plain tomato soup will do.
With that, one comfort is confirmed: I have the chance to do what I have a passion for, no matter how many times I am denied, how I ruin things, or where I decide to go. That said, I want to go to a great school, and I want to use those four years to their full potential. The goal has shifted from proving I’ve succeeded to making a sanctuary out of that time.
So with the same weight on my shoulders, just of a brighter color, let the process begin.