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.
Today is the day after Thanksgiving. I am in my bedroom, sitting at my desk, typing this article on my personal laptop. Behind my house, nestled in the safety of suburbia, is approximately three square miles of forest. There is a fine layer of snow on the ground and the pine tree branches are reflecting the final rays of November sun. Downstairs, my mother is unpacking our Christmas decorations, starting with our artificial tree that will appear perfectly at home amid the picturesque wooded background. My father is chasing our two dogs around the kitchen. My grandfather is smiling in his easy chair. Next to me is a mug of tea, a bag of Sour Patch Kids, a framed photograph of my friends from middle school, half a dozen notebooks, and a Russian nesting doll from my trip to Moscow three months ago. I am extremely privileged.
In the past, I’ve written about my college interview and joked about my quest for the perfect outfit. I’ve worried about the rigor of my senior year curriculum, and I’ve described this whole college admissions process through GIFs of cute dogs. I’ve made light of a life that very few people will get the chance to live. This Thanksgiving, I am incredibly thankful that I have the opportunity to apply to and eventually attend a college or university.
For so many, a college education is a dream that lies far out of reach. So many people my age are forced to navigate this system that favors the children of wealthy, educated, and connected parents, leaving the majority uninformed and at the mercy of often corrupt institutions. Every day, I am thankful that I have an amazing support system (my parents, teachers, guidance counselors, and friends) who can help me figure out the world of higher education. Every day I see how much my school does for myself and my classmates, and I am reminded of how lucky and privileged I am to see college as the next step rather than the next hurdle.
Tuition rates in the United States have risen over 1000% in the last few decades, and for thousands of families, scholarships and financial aid are still not enough. This year, I am thankful that I come from a middle class background, from a family who can, and are willing to help me finance the next four years of my life. As I have gone through the process of taking standardized tests, paying application fees, and sending in letters of recommendation, I’ve been shocked at the price my family and I have had to pay just to apply to schools. It seems that every aspect of the process requires a credit card number. Even a rejection letter comes with a price tag. It isn’t fair that so many brilliant, motivated students across the country will have to choose between an education or basic necessities. It isn’t right that I can complain about my stress levels when teenagers all across the country, and all across the world, would give anything to be in my position.
As I’ve applied to colleges, I’ve come to realize how much of a big deal this all is. I’ve come to understand that filling out applications and writing supplemental essays are a privilege I should never take for granted. This week has especially put my life into perspective after the events following the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Michael Brown was the same age as I am now when he was shot. He was about to go to college, about to take the first step into the real world. He was just as excited to start his adult life as I am as I write this article. But in the blink of an eye, one man took all of that away. Yesterday, I sat at the dinner table and answered my family’s countless questions about my academic future. Michael Brown’s family will never be able to do the same.
I do not understand what it feels like to know that college a mystery I will never solve. I do not understand what it feels like to know that college is an unattainable dream living just beyond the next paycheck. I do not understand what it feels like to have my college education ripped from my hands raised above my head. But I do understand that I have a responsibility to use what I have to help other people.
I am white, middle class, well educated, and extremely privileged. I have been given more in my short time on Earth than I deserve. Others have been given so much less than they need. I am thankful today for everything that I have and everything I will receive because of my skin tone, background, and upbringing. I am thankful for my future college education. I am thankful for the ability to see the world as it truly is because it has inspired me to never take anything for granted. As I pursue what for millions of kids is impossible, I will remain thankful and I will do all I can to stand behind those who do not have the life that I have. I will stand in solidarity with those who are not filling out college applications this year, but who are working to put dinner on the table for their families, who are helping their little brothers with their math homework, who are fighting against the systems that have historically favored only one type of person. I will do everything in my power to break down those systems as well.
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for everything I have been given and everything I have the responsibility to give back.
To contact Morgan about her unnatural love of dogs or her college admissions journey, shoot her an email at email@example.com.