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student to student

Sarah Moffitt

There is nothing easy about getting into college. From figuring out where to apply, applying, getting accepted, knowing where you want to go, and paying for it, each step is complicated, time consuming, and stressful. The worst part of it is definitely the application process, Between the essays and the short answer forms, many seniors find themselves spending the better part of the fall cooped up in front of the computer trying to appeal to the person who will be reading their essays and deciding their future. In reality, nothing about the college application shows a true sense of the person behind the grades. Even the essay, whose purpose is to give students a chance to reveal more about themselves, is made up of exaggerations and a desperate ploy to look like a person who would greatly contribute to the college.

Each college’s essay prompt is generally the same. They all ask us to evaluate ourselves in some way. The problem is we are in the stage of our lives where we don’t know who or what we are. High school is when kids take on different identities daily, seeing how they fit and which one is truly us. We go through friends, seeing which ones mesh with our changing personalities. How can we assess ourselves when we are still in the stage where we are trying to conform or rebel. Sure I’m unique, just like everyone else, after all, unique is the new look this year. As much as I would like to say I know who I am, where I’m going, and what I want, my idea of myself changes daily. One day I think I am a self-assured, confident hard worker, the next day I fail a test and decide I will never amount to anything and my whole life is a joke. Yeah, I bet that’s exactly what a college wants, a bipolar girl who knows what jeans she looks best in, but not what she believes in.

As for the short answer forms a favorite of colleges is to ask what kind of hardships we have had to overcome. Well the only major one I can think of is trying to get a scholarship when you are a white, B+ student growing up in Park City. I don’t think the essay readers would enjoy sarcasm or bitterness. I’ve learned a lot in life, but none of these lessons came from growing up in a single-parent household where I was the sole provider and took care of my 12 younger brothers. My life lessons have come from having to overcome a fight with my best friend, or my sister not sharing her Barbies. While these events have taught me how to behave and how to put together a convincing argument, neither are what colleges want us to write about. They want to hear about overcoming a disability or trying to raise oneself. The problem is the majority of kids applying to college haven’t had to do this, so instead we are forced to fabricate a story about overcoming being teased in middle school.

The last question you can except to see on at least one college application is the question concerning a life-changing event. To be completely honest, my life-changing event was probably when my sixth-grade boyfriend kissed me and then broke up with me the next day. I learned to never trust boys and that everything gets forgotten, what is big news today will be quickly replaced by tomorrow’s crisis. Instead, I put exactly what the college wants and write about how those two hours I spent helping the homeless really defines who I am. It’s a complete lie, but I really don’t think they want the truth. That’s the problem with the essays, they don’t reveal anything more about the student than the rest of the application.

The only thing the essay does is give students a chance to exaggerate how great they are when it comes to community service and being involved. The whole application is centered around a person who in no way represents me. The C grade I received in 9th grade pottery (my vase broke in the oven) could be the deciding factor in whether or not I get in. Do the colleges actually expect us to answer each essay question honestly when our main goal is just to get into the school so we can start sleeping again? One of the short answer questions on the New York University application asked how I spent my Sunday. If they really wanted to know the personality of the average student applying(myself included), they should expect to hear how they sleep in till 10, watch a Dane Cook marathons on Comedy Central, and then do the homework they put of till the last minute. No one puts this on the essay, people write about how they study for a test, work ahead on homework, and then go tutor less fortunate children. One Sunday they did do this so it isn’t a lie, and it’s a straight ticket towards acceptance. That’s what I have learned from all of this. It’s not about how well you can write, but about how well you can work in good things you have done and how well you can twist reality to works toward your advantage. Also for those of you wondering, I still haven’t heard back from NYU.


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