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.
It’s strange being on the other side of the diploma. Five years is a long time to stay in one place, yet it seems my eighth grade self blinked and became a senior. College is still something hazy and far away even though the emails I’ve received about setting up my email accounts and filling our housing questionnaires are all too real.
I could laugh at how optimistic I was when I began my senior year. I thought I was ready, but soon realized that I’d taken on more than I was used to. The most important lesson I’ve learned this year can be summed up in one word: balance. There was so much to do between college applications, schoolwork, and extracurriculars that I was just going through the motions. I never really had time to sit down, breathe, and actually enjoy senior year.
Or so I thought. If you can make time to type that English paper at 4 am, you can make time to unwind. It’s too easy to fall into the trap of “If I don’t do X, I won’t get into college/get scholarships” or “If I had done X, I would’ve gotten into college/gotten scholarships.” Sure, college admissions have become more competitive than ever, but you shouldn’t burn yourself out in high school. Periodically, you should ask yourself if you actually like the things you’re doing. Doing something just to put on your resume or for a cord isn’t worth your peace of mind. Looking back, I wish I’d spent more time hanging out with my friends and simply luxuriating in my last year of high school. I was so future focused that I forgot about the present.
The next most important lesson I learned is not to worry. It’s natural to worry about everything that’s happening in your life around this time; there’s a lot of potential rejection coming your way. But there’s not much you can do after you hit the submit button or put a stamp on it. Try to distract yourself so you don’t become obsessive.
The third tidbit of advice I have is to separate yourself from your applications. It can feel like everyday you come home to a “We regret to inform you” or “We had an outstanding number of applicants this year” letter. It can seem like all of your hard work was for absolutely nothing. This isn’t true. I don’t know you, but I do know that you’re an amazing person and your time is coming. I promise. And even if things don’t go the way you’d like, it’ll be okay. Remember, the college doesn’t make the person. The people — the professors, the other first years, the upperclassmen, the administrative staff, and especially you — make the college. If you still don’t like where you are after a few years, you could always transfer. Disappointment isn’t the end of the world; it opens you up to new opportunities.
I had to remind myself of this frequently when it seemed nothing was going as it was supposed to. Things usually work out. I don’t know how or why, but they do.
Mildly sappy YA fiction time is over, so I’ll keep it moving.
I’m eighteen, which is a nice, round, adult-ish age. Yet I still feel like a baby. Was it really just last August that I was cracking graduation jokes and applying to college? Instead of thinking about summer reading and how the summer will change my classmates, I’m busy worrying about taxes and applying for loans. At the beginning of my senior year, I thought that I’d be a fully independent, capable, and knowledgeable adult by May. I was wrong. My euphoria for the future comes in waves. Sometimes my heart swells and I’m filled with so much pride and excitement that I daydream about what classes I’ll take the next four years. Other times I wonder if everyone can tell that, in the words of Awolnation, “I still don’t know what I’m doing.”
But that’s okay. I’m through with worrying about high school and all of it’s trials and tribulations. The next few years will be filled with firsts, and high school (as much as we might hate to admit it) has prepared us for them. As for the ones high school hasn’t prepared us for. . . well, we’re strong enough to handle them on our own. As you can see, my ever present optimism is showing itself again.
And that’s how I’ll leave you: with optimism.
The summer stretches before us to be filled with whatever we dream.
The stacks of books on my floor demand to be read, my guitar demands to be played, and my notebooks demand to be filled with words. Don’t make the mistake I did. Plan for the future, yes. But enjoy the present as it happens.
After all, it won’t last forever.
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