Contemplating College

There's so little time to do everything, that I wish colleges would accept me for the way I am.

I had a really hard time figuring out what to write about this week. I went back and forth between two other article ideas, wrote them out, but they didn’t sound like me. They were too critical and condemning for my taste. I took breaks in between these episodes of writer's block to watch some TV, do some math homework, and to just have time to be a teenager.

I realized then that I don’t really get that much time to just have moments to myself and to just rock out to music in my room. It seems that I always have another essay to write, another history chapter to read, or another chemistry test that needs to be studied for. When I was in middle school, the elephant in the room was always what high school would be like. How would it be different? Would my teachers like me? We were all anxious to take that next step in our lives.

Now that I’m there, however, high school is so much work. My brain actually seems to throb sometimes at the end of the day. I got up in front of my Spanish class on Thursday to recite a simple dialogue that my partner and I had been working on to show our understanding of the new vocabulary and grammar that we had been learning. In front of the class, for the first time ever, I spaced out. I forgot all of my lines and couldn’t remember anything. I looked at my partner with blank eyes. I was completely flustered.

This might have been my most embarrassing moment ever, and my fumbling to try and make the class think I was funny in the aftermath, didn’t help much either. I was talking to my friend about it later in the day and one of her theories was that it was because I was overworking myself.

It seems like everything I do, sign up for, and participate in is because it somehow will look good on my college application. I volunteer for just about as much as I can muster. I am trying to find my “angle” because my counselors tell me that that is what colleges like. They told me to start community service hours early, so every Wednesday and Friday for the past six months I have given about four hours on each of the days for the district radio station. I cram in solving for imaginary numbers between typing in the codes for commercial breaks. Every second is valuable time that I could be using to get more work done. To waste any of it would be foolish.

I miss the days when I could just play. My grandparents and aunts and uncles often call to ask when I have a day off to spend time with them. I constantly have to decline their offers because I am swamped with swim meets or volunteer events, not to mention school functions and obligations. I want to be able to spend more time with my young cousins and make memories with them before I have to go off to college, but that’s just it. College. That is what we are all have to sacrifice for. We have so much pressure put on us to get there. If we don’t get into a good college then we won’t get a good job. If we don’t have a good job, we can’t pay the bills.

I wish that I didn’t have to worry about all this. It’s so much pressure and stress. I just wish that colleges would accept me for the way I am. Truth is, no matter how hard I work there will always be someone working harder and that means another hurdle to jump over, another obstacle to work around, and another competitor to beat. The race is never over and the drive to succeed is always there. In the end, the one who will win will be the one who made the most sacrifices and drove themselves the most insane. Is it worth it? Time will only tell. Look out senior year.

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4freedom March 20, 2012 at 06:16 PM
In my experience, the way to win the race is not to compete. The system wants you to think that this world is supposed to be like that. That we are supposed to be competitive and we are to make it our goal to be better than the guy next to you or other employees trying to attain the same position you are. In reality it is important to get along with everyone. Not become best friends, but to get along with everyone because in any industry it matters more of who you know and less of what you know. If you go through life trying to be better than everyone else, you loose out on the opportunity to learn from everyone else. Employers look for how well you work with others and not how much better you are than they are. I can't tell you how many times I've seen the know it all of the company get fired while the friendly guy gets promoted. Companies and organizations are looking for leaders, not overachievers. Not only that but if you live your life with the goal to be better than everyone else, you will not only will be disappointed but you would be quite miserable with the decisions you would have made. It is much less stressful to go through life with integrity as your goal. Be a great student but you dont have to be the best student in your class, do your job well but you dont have to be the best employee. Live your life knowing that every decision you made had the best intentions in mind. Be the best "you" can be, not just "the best". -4freedom
Alice Kleeman March 20, 2012 at 11:12 PM
I’m sad when students believe they must become someone other than who they are to be admitted to college. Working with h.s. seniors for 18 years, I can tell you without hesitation that students who fare best in college admission have steadfastly been true to themselves through high school, never spending even a moment participating in an activity because they think it will "look good" on an application. Students who challenge themselves in classes that interest them most and in which they are strongest (rather than taking every advanced class); students who participate in activities that truly mean something to them (one or two, not dozens); students who earn others’ respect (in particular for integrity); and students who are balanced and healthy—allotting time for family, friends, and reading under a tree on a beautiful day—are snapped up by colleges, even the most selective ones. Those students will arrive on campus fresh and not burned out, ready to contribute enthusiastically to their new community. If you don't believe me, this perspective is reiterated by admission deans at more than 50 colleges in a book called COLLEGE ADMISSION From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step by Robin Mamlet (former Dean at Stanford, Swarthmore, and Sarah Lawrence) and Christine VandeVelde (journalist and parent). Students who read this book realize they can take a deep breath and dedicate themselves to enjoying high school, not trying to be anyone other than who they are.
tehunter March 21, 2012 at 04:35 AM
In my opinion, it's better to do the things you love. Go out of your comfort zone for sure, that's that they're looking for, but don't ever do something just because it will look good for college. I think people have the idea that they need to do the "right" things to get into college. But in reality, almost anything can be the "right" thing; if you don't match a particular college's views of a 'perfect' student, then the school isn't right for you anyways.
rcrapes March 21, 2012 at 04:36 AM
I agree with both the commenters above. Be true to yourself and do things that interest you, not what you think others feel you should do. Also, you don't have to go to a 4 year college right after high school to get a good college education. My husband and myself, and both our girls attended community college before transferring to a 4 year college. It is sometimes easier to get into a 4 year college after attending a community college. Some of my daughter's classmates who went to 4 year colleges right after high school, didn't make it through the first two years. My girls were athletes and played soccer from elementary school through college, as well as participate in other school clubs. They weren't the AP Honors students either, but they are both happy successful adults now. Neither one of them knew what they wanted to do until college, both changed their majors once. Once you finish school and are in the work world, it doesn't matter where you went to college, only that you went and were successful. I have known many people who majored in one thing in college and worked in a completely different field. There's an Irish saying that applies to this situation, "It's better to like what you do than to do what you like." Even in my own work life, teaching, I enjoyed teaching even though it wasn't the subject(s) I was prepared to teach-I had to learn as I was teaching.
4freedom March 21, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Here's a tip. Never apply to a "for profit university or college" like Phoenix University, Everest, Heald, Devry, Westwood and so on. These do not have an accredited curriculum and will try to scam you with the idea of graduating early. Watch the PBS documentary College Inc. you can find it on Netflix and Youtube. When a resume comes through our human resources department and it has a for profit school listed under education it gets placed into a "special bin" that don't ever reach the hiring manager's office. These schools do not care about your education, they just want your money and they prey on the less informed. This is why these schools are advertised during talk shows, they are targeting a certain audience fro a reason. Go to a CU or CSU or any accredited State University but do not fall for scams and promises of graduating early or paying less for education. What's great about community college is you get to try different classes and to really find out what you want to do and switch your major without penalties. Many graduates find out that what they thought they wanted to major in, really was not what they were passionate for. Your opinions and your total outlook on life changes after High School for sure. My advice would be to go to community college and find your passion, then go to a State Accredited University and make that passion become reality, Good Luck!


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