Feeling alone as you swim through the terrifying waters known as the college admission process? Have no fear! We have several seniors blogging about ups, downs, and random in-betweens of their college process for the next 12 months (from June 2014 to June 2015!). Sit back, relax, and get that “OMG I totally get you, bro” feeling. Information for how to contact a blogger will be at the bottom of his/her posts.
By the time you read this article, the May 1st deadline for committing to colleges will have passed. Thousands of high school students across the country, and across the world, will have placed their tuition and housing deposits and ordered the obligatory t-shirt and bumper sticker with their future emblazoned in serifed font. I am one of those students. For the past year of my life I have shared with you all how I’ve spent my time studying for the ACT, writing drafts of my common app essay, asking for letters of recommendation, and crying softly into my calculus text book.
Last June, when I began my stint as Admit/Deny blogger for The Prospect, I wrote an introductory article. In that article, I included a quote from my favorite poet, Anis Mojgani. I wrote about who I thought I was using big words and bad jokes. I was full of excitement, naive optimism, fear, and a whole lot of misunderstandings. Because this past year has ended up being about more than just getting into college; it’s been about growing up in the purest, simplest meaning of the phrase. This year has been about learning who I am and who I have the ability to become.
So who am I now?
Well, I’m still a fan of spoken word poetry, but now I’m a poet myself. I am no longer afraid to speak up, no longer afraid to be heard. This world is full of opinions that I am still learning to politely ignore. I heard from teachers, family, friends, and anonymous internet commentators where I should apply to school and what my essays should sound like. I read hundreds of articles about which extracurricular activities looked best on a resume. I even worried about whether or not my own thoughts were interesting enough for admissions interviews, as if plagiarizing consciousness were the best option. It’s easy to silently float through adolescence in a haze of what MTV wants you to be, but, this year, I learned that it’s better to write your own personality. For me, that personality came nervous, in late August, in an orange suit jacket and polka-dot pants, standing on the corner of 116th and Broadway, staring with absolute clarity at Barnard College, my future home.
I still use big words, but I know, now, that I am not the smart kid I thought I was. I mentioned last month how lucky I am to have gotten into my dream college. Lucky, but perhaps not as deserving as other, qualified, students. I ignorantly imagined, before senior year began, that my good grades and test scores would get me anywhere I wanted to go. But that isn’t how the world works. I got into Barnard because I worked really hard, sure, but also because my work is considered more valuable by our current system of higher education than the work of so many other’s. I am lucky, and immensely privileged, to have had the opportunity to focus on my grades instead of working to put dinner on the table for my family.
I am extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to take piano lessons and pursue theater and travel. I’ve spent my high school years taking advantage of all of the opportunities presented to me, without truly understanding or appreciating their impact. I know now that getting into a great school doesn’t mean I worked any harder than my classmate who is raising her two younger brothers or my friend who works a 20 hour a week food-service job. So many of my peers have had to sacrifice good grades and test prep for things that are much more important, much more honorable, much more difficult, and it isn’t fair that so many of them were left with cold rejection letters when they are much, much smarter than I could ever hope to be. I still use big words, but I still have a lot to learn about who is the bigger person.
In my opening introduction, I wrote that I wanted to study to become a doctor. I said that I wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. This is all still true, but I’m learning that making a difference isn’t as easy as picking up a scalpel and removing a tumor. If I really want to change the world (whatever that means), I will have to gain more of a perspective on the world’s suffering. I will have to use my luck and my privilege and all of the opportunities I’ve been given to give back to those whose work remains unnoticed and unappreciated.
I’ve learned and grown a lot this past year, and it’s all due to this infuriating, ego-driven, but, in the end, enlightening college admissions process. This is my last article as an Admit/Deny blogger so I guess it’s time for a new introduction:
I am Morgan Crist. I am an 18 year old high school senior who loves poetry, medicine, and kimchee. I was born into a world full of war, poverty, and injustice. But I was also born into a world full of innovation, creativity, and promise. My favorite color is green. My favorite author is Toni Morrison. I play the piano and the ukulele and never quite got the hang of riding my unicycle. I spend most days worrying about things I can’t control, and lately I’ve spent most nights wishing I were someone I will never be able to become. I am nearsighted from straining my eyes looking too far into the future because this world is moving too fast for me to see anything that isn’t right in front of me. In less than four months I will be moving for the first time, hundreds of miles away from all that I’ve ever known to attend Barnard College of Columbia University.
I am young. I am hopelessly optimistic. I am terrified of failure. But I am ready for whoever I become whenever I become it. I am ready, and I will be okay.
I am Morgan Crist, and I am signing off. Good luck to the next batch of Admit/Deny bloggers. Use this as a chance to learn something about yourself. Don’t take things too seriously. You’ll be just fine.
To contact Morgan about her college admissions journey, shoot her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.