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 2015 to June 2016!). 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.
I got over myself! I searched up the major and degree programs of my prospective colleges, narrowed down my list, and made yet another table of colleges and their application deadlines. I filled out all of the Common App sections except for my essay, wrote 2-3 essay drafts, and submitted all of my recommendation info and supplement information to three different teachers, as well as a full scholarship application. So I guess that makes me slightly on top of things. Despite all my efforts for the past month there is still so much more to do: supplements upon supplements, transcript requests, and an endless amount of editing. Until now I never really understood what my older friends and sibling meant when they described the stress of first semester senior year. During the week I get fewer than 4 hours of sleep per night, and I have a feeling that that number is going to shrink as my courses pick up pace.
As I described in my earlier post, many times while completing applications I felt as though I could be engaged in more meaningful activities, especially while filling out my personal information for the 3rd time on the scholarship form. But a larger source of my frustration has been essay writing.
When it comes to essays, I have a large number of meaningful experiences to pull from. Unfortunately, I’ve also found clearly communicating their significance very difficult. This isn’t too surprising, since I rarely write at length about my own experiences, nor do I often expend so much effort on the writing process. In the past two days I’ve read each of my essays about 20 times over, meticulously editing awkward phrases, rearranging sentences to achieve logical coherence, and heeding to the advice of my parents and friends about how my writing could be further improved. (That sentence was somewhat awkward itself but I am going to leave it unedited to relish in what I once could do). It has been exhausting, and I haven’t won all of the battles against my critics. I’ve had to remind myself constantly that feedback is something I should embrace, not avoid.
Even now I’m having trouble putting two words together to describe my writing experience. And worse, I keep cutting out convoluted or wordy portions of this blog post, glancing every few minutes at the word count to see how mine compares to the notorious 650. There isn’t even a word limit for Admit/Deny posts!
Probably the second most difficult aspect of college apps so far has been navigating the UCAS and COPA applications, two UK apps for University of Cambridge international applicants. I’m unfamiliar with terms used to describe different aspects of forms meant for residents of the UK. For example, the form asks for my “qualifications”. I don’t know if that means grades, diplomas, standardized test scores, etc. Also, when I entered “High School Diploma” as one qualification, the form asked me to fill out different modules, which indicate either subjects I’ve taken or classes I’ve passed, I’m not sure. Fortunately, I’ve been emailing the Cambridge Admissions Office with my questions, and they’ve been responding promptly.
I decided to apply to Cambridge because their Physics program (not to mention all of their other programs) is one of the strongest worldwide. The issue is I’m the type of person who always shies away from change and probably would feel very homesick if studying an ocean away from home. Two years ago, my parents booked a trip to Disneyland over my winter break as a Christmas present and when I found out I was horrified. Of course, the trip was great and I am glad I went, but at the same time that’s one less “childhood” Christmas I would experience, with our Christmas tree and the warm fireplace and the muddy hoofprints my mom makes to keep up the illusion of Santa’s reindeer sullying our marble floor.
At the same time I want to leave. I know that stepping outside my comfort zone and adapting my perspective to new people and environments is the only way I’ll grow. It’s an intimidating but exciting thought, so I’m going to go through with the application.
The aversion to change I considered when applying to Cambridge is present in many facets of my life right now. This week during study hall I was looking around I saw little to no familiar faces. My fellow seniors were in class, having given up their study hall for early dismissal at the end of the day. I thought about how my graduated friends must have felt when they were in my shoes. It’s strange to feel alienated in a school you’ve attended for 3 years.
Moreover, although I’m heavily involved in extracurriculars at my high school, I’m not involved for myself anymore. I’m involved to lead and serve younger members, so that they can carry on my legacy after I graduate. I’m tied to my high school by responsibility, not by choice. I don’t mean that in a negative way, I just mean that senior year feels like an introduction to becoming an adult…maybe I do mean that in a negative way.
Well, that’s the bulk of what has occupied my time and mind this September. I shudder to think that by the time of my next post I will have submitted all of my early application materials. Then again, looking back on the progress I’ve made during the past 4 weeks, both college-related and college-unrelated, I feel both compelled and scared to say that I might actually emerge unscathed.
Want to get in touch with Shivani? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and she’ll write you back ASAP!