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So I’d like to start off this month’s post by issuing a formal apology for the ideas presented in last month’s treatise. Not in a Spanish Inquisition type of way, but more in a “How could I ever have been so foolish?” type of way–because my theories took as a given that things fall off on the college apps front after the big wave of regular decision application submissions.
As you may have gleaned, I was wrong. At least in my personal experience.
The most compelling piece of counter-evidence is the surfeit of financial aid forms my familial retinue and I have tackled over the past month or so. On the evening of New Year’s Day, with only a handful of regular decision applications remaining and a slight feeling of relief, I opened up a blank Google Spreadsheet and started Googling deadline dates for required financial aid forms and documentation. Most of the deadlines seemed reasonably, comfortably far off. It would all get done, even if I had to pull some of the same last-minute antics that characterized the applications proper.
Except that, this time around, there were a lot more variables to consider. I couldn’t just capriciously decide to add another school and whip off another supplement in the early morning hours of January first (not that I would, or rather did, actually do such a thing). My parents were considerably more involved this go-round, for what should be fairly apparent financial reasons, and their involvement meant that everything had to be planned out well in advance. Just as, back in fall, I had to remind my dad at least twice a week about the existence of net price calculators for several months before he agreed to actually help me fill one out, I had to similarly wheedle my parents to get the perennial diptych of financial aid, the FAFSA and CSS Profile, filled out in a timely fashion. In the wake of this, the IDOC still looms large. Forms need to be submitted, despite several obstacles.
Indeed, for me, this stage of the college application process is remarkable for the onerous amount of forms. Next week, I’m going on another college visit, for which several forms have had to be filed, including one that I only today finally remembered to scan and send due to a well-timed reminder I set via my phone. Even at school, a number of to-be-signed or to-be-filed forms clog the pockets of various of my folders, perhaps never to see the light of day.
In the midst of all this paperwork, I feel vaguely like some sort of tragic, archetypal figure, the Office Drone of mythology, and what’s more, I feel weirdly that the college admissions process is taking on the same theoretical cast that it once had. Look at all these papers that, at some point, will (not actually, but figuratively) coalesce into, if all goes well, at least one possible path to the future. But for now, here we are. It’s still waiting, but a lot less sedentary than I always thought waiting would be.
School continues unabated, to no one’s greater surprise and consternation than my own. What this particular stage in my life is doing for me, academically and intellectually, is giving me slightly more breathing room, through the second semester senior’s mien, to reconnect with and reconsider my various intellectual interests, both in a sort of Utopian vacuum (“Now I might actually have time to finish rereading Pedagogy of the Oppressed without feeling terribly, terribly guilty!”) and with one eye towards the kinds of intellectual experiences I might like to have in college. Not in a utilitarian way, but in a tentative, exploratory one. This, I think, is one of the more exciting things about this period of my life, forms and all.
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