What They Don’t Tell You About The College Application Process | Op-ed

People say that your senior year of high school is supposed to be your easiest, most stress-free, and enjoyable year of all the four years that you spend in high school. And for the most part, that is true. However, they forget to inform you of the fact that the first few months are actually some of the most challenging and stressful months that you will ever experience before entering adulthood. This is largely because those months are filled to the brim with filling out applications, writing essays, recalling all you did your previous years in high school to fit them into a resume and so much more.

person's hand on keyboards laptop

As a high school senior myself, currently going through the college application process, I have been faced with the sudden realization that the decision I make on where I will attend university for the next four years will have a huge impact on my future. I am expected to decide what I want to study in college, that will ultimately determine what I do for the rest of my life. Although I am lucky enough to know what I want to do with my life in the future and the steps I need to take to get there, a lot of others my age do not; and that is okay. With this realization also comes another, comprising of the fact that you are now on the brink of adulthood, with the expectation that you will now live on your own, take care of yourself and do so many things for yourself that you hadn’t previously done.

The application process itself is one that is quite tricky. You are expected to lay out all your four years of high school into an application that is only a couple pages long in which a group of people will review and decide the fate of where you end up; and to be honest, that is very scary. For me, these realizations have led to imposter syndrome. I started analyzing my grades, my GPA, the extracurriculars activities I had participated in throughout high school, wondering whether the number of leadership positions I had would be enough, regretting the times I spent having fun with my friends instead of studying for the test I knew I had the next day, and wishing I had pulled more all-nighters and gotten more stuff done. 

These past few months have seemed to drag on for what feels like a lifetime. My days are spent in front of a computer screen, attempting to write essays that will portray who I am but will also impress admissions officers enough to accept me into their colleges, and they continue well into the night with school work, resumes, extracurricular activities and scholarship applications because I now know that aside from being challenging, college is also very expensive.

However, times are not always bad; there is also a good amount of positives that have come out of this experience for me. With each essay I write, each sentence I edit and alter, I learn more about myself, about the things I have grown to love, the passion I have for what I want to do in life, and just who I am as a person. Supplemental essays carry me to memories of my high school life, reliving and loving every single one of them. It’s also times like this that make me realize all the things that I have worked hard to achieve throughout my years in high school. I realize that it was okay for me to have gone and had fun with my friends. The clubs and activities I had participated in were things that I had enjoyed; things that I did for fun and were meaningful to me; not just for a college application.

While I do acknowledge the fact that this process I am going through is a big one, one that will impact my future, I also realize that it will not make my future. The things that I have done in the past have led me to where I am now. And I know when I press that button to submit my applications, I will not be worrying about whether the grades I got were good enough, whether my standardized test scores were in the 75th percentile or not, or whether I did enough extracurricular activities and got enough leadership positions. I have worked hard, and have earned everything that I have accomplished. When I press that button, I will be smiling; because this college application process is the beginning of a new experience, filled with so much that I do not know about, but am equally excited for; a college experience.

WRITTEN BY: Fatima Makama

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