Notes With Natalie: College Apps

This Issue: The Trials of Senior Year (Part One – College Apps)

Juniors, Argos, underclassmen – lend me your ears! You are nowhere near as informed about the college-application process as you think you are. Sorry.

You’ve all heard the horror stories, I’m sure. You’ve all heard of the seventeen revisions people have to go through before submitting their personal statements. You’ve heard of the ungodly cost of applications. You’ve heard of the terribly strenuous process that is filling in your personal information again and again and again.

And yet you still do not realize just how unprepared you are.

 

As your wise senior friend (and if we’ve never met, hi, I’m Natalie, and now we’re friends) it is my duty to inform you of the truths of this very last year of high school, starting with applying to colleges.

  1. There are more schools than those in the UC and CalState systems. It’s like a stigma in our school or something, but by the time application season rolls around, no one knows anything about applying to privates or signing up for junior colleges for when the new year rolls around. Our teachers don’t tell us much more than “Go to college!”When they come to give presentations about college, our counselors totally skip over any and all information pertaining to schools outside the two systems mentioned above as if they were diseased. My friends, expand your horizons! UCSD is not the only school you can aim for, I swear.
  2. If all you talk about is college apps, know that nobody likes you right now. No one’s gonna speak to you because all you do is stress them out. Like, it’s fine if you rage once or twice, we all know the feeling. It’s not fine if every time sometime turns in your direction you go off and start talking about how you regret not “stacking your resume earlier” or how this person has a chance and you don’t or how you’re “totally gonna get rejected”. No one cares, and people will have gotten tired of you by the fourth time you bring it up.
  3. Applications are expensive as heck. Some people get fee waivers, and they’re lucky as heck. Some people don’t. Don’t refrain from applying to a school because it’s expensive – any chance is a good chance, right? Save up some cash and spend it on this (I know apps are due after Black Friday, but I am warning you to take caution and not spend all your money on those ten sweaters that are each five dollars off).
  4. Don’t apply to a school just because of its status. Yes, a good school looks good for you, but it’s usually nothing more than an ego boost. Okay, no. Schools of high standing have that reputation for a reason; it’s like having a BMW versus having a Camry. You see the difference in the name, the subtle shift in respect masked by catcalls and mocking cries of “Baller!” (and in the cases of high-ranking universities, “Nerd!”). And there is a difference in quality. Is it a big difference? Not really. Every school has its pool of amazing professors and programs. Don’t go to a school you hate and do not feel at home in just because it has a high ranking on the US News’s list of best colleges. Treat it like you’re shopping – if you’re iffy about wearing it, don’t buy it. Something looking good on a mannequin does not guarantee its fit on you, ya feel?
  5. Community college is not for stupid people. Is it a local school? Yes. Is it a center for pursuing higher education? Yes. We need to stop shafting community college and thinking that it’s a fishbowl in which all minds come to die. Community college is a viable option for education, still offering the same credits as larger universities and for a price that’s not nearly as steep –  it’s practically free. It’s perfectly fine to not zip off to a “prestigious” school for college, so don’t stress it if you don’t get it.
  6. That feeling you get right after submitting your apps? It’s a whole new world. Everyone stresses about their college applications. The work you go through to include just the right details and write just the perfect pieces for consideration are so important because they’re so personal – this could be your future on the line. The second you click submit (right after you enter in your billing information and die a little inside at the total your fees came out to be), there’s this sense of zen that washes over you. And you slump back into your seat. And you text your best friend or whoever it is you talk to a lot. And you’re just so peaceful. Because it’s out of your hands now.
  7. You deserve a break. And there’s no sense in denying yourself something so integral to the maintenance of your mental and emotional health.

 

And now that the application process is over and done with and that weight has lifted from your very tense shoulders, it’s a waiting game. Personally, I’m refusing to be stressed until acceptances and rejections start to roll in early March (because I know for a fact I will be anticipating all these rejection letters as a nice little birthday present from the gods of higher education).

And that’s all I have to say, my friends. But who’d trust me? I’m just a seventeen-year-old with too much time on her hands and too many opinions to keep in.

signed,
nat