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.
College apps are, of course, a stressful time. Everyone has their own way of balancing the arduous process of trudging through the experience while juggling a hundred other things on one’s plate. Knowing this at the commencement of it all, I fully expected to feel swamped, to get carried away in a sea of supplements and activity dossiers. Surprisingly enough, that hasn’t quite been the case thus far! I manage to carve out some time to work on college apps every day, aided by certain Best Practices (well, amiable practices) of my school. Of course, two caveats: Firstly, it hasn’t actually been that long. There’s still miles to go before the swarm of submissions that fateful winter evening at ca. 11:57 pm, which means there’s still plenty of room for burnout. And secondly, I’m coming to realize, as the days go by with at least a modicum of daily productivity, that my feelings of balance may be exacerbated by something like a sense of distance, in itself reified by the fact that, more than ever before, I’m rather unsure about the future I desire with regards to college.
This sounds somewhat precarious, and it is, but not, I don’t think, in a negative way. I’m certainly not saying that I feel like I don’t want to go to college, or that I want something radically different out of the experience. Rather, I feel somewhat more level-headed than in previous epochs regarding my ability to adapt to different possible futures. I know that all the colleges on my list would, in the event of my matriculation, give me everything I needed to construct an ontology I’d get a lot out of; it would, of course, be up to me to use those tools efficaciously, but even at the most seemingly perfect school, the ur-dream college, this would still hold true. In many ways, this sense of elemental confidence is a function of recent developments in my greater feeling of self-efficacy. This summer, I attended the Telluride Association Summer Program, which, aside from (in the end) being a transcendent experience in general, left me with a stronger sense of my position within possibility and constructive space. Essentially, at this point in my life, I feel more than ever before that things can happen, and that I can do them. This doesn’t, I don’t think, translate into false hope; rather, it gives me a sense of what Joan Didion, in her essay “Goodbye to All That,” calls “a high emotional balance,” the feeling of having which leads one to believe that one will “be able to pay whatever it costs.” Perhaps this sounds somewhat facile, but I think it’s important in that, for the first time in my life, the thought of taking risks doesn’t utterly terrify me. I’ll be okay, I can tell myself; whether or not that ends up being the case, I’ll have gotten something out of the experience, I know.
This aura doesn’t quite mesh well with the paranoia of the college admissions process. The canon of college apps is, essentially, “double down.” Which I still plan on doing! But instead of letting myself get terrified at every corner, perhaps I can keep my wits above me. Or not: there’s still a lot ahead of me. All those supplements…
Some concrete good is on the horizon, though! I’m soon headed to a fly-in program at a liberal arts college I hold in high regard and am excited to get a more concrete grasp on. My prediction is that this particular experience will help to make the college apps process more real for me in certain ways–not in a “It suddenly hit me that this was real” way, but rather, in the sense that I’ll perhaps be rejuvenated if the aforementioned possible burnout comes to fruition. Also, being a Texas native, I’ll freely admit that I’m excited to experience the seasons in a region of the United States where that concept is more than mostly theoretical. It’s a small thing, but, in a sense, perhaps it taps into some of the excitement one generally feels about college in general. The promise of new experiences, of some sort of broadening of the horizon. Whether the eventual realization of that promise takes one by storm, changing everything about one’s perception of the world, or whether it fills in certain crevices and leads to small shifts in one’s point of view, it’s worth it to find out. We’ll see how it turns out for me–as soon as I follow this hopefully-balanced process to its logical conclusion.
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