Youth: Senior Year Blues
Why do college admissions become such a numbers game? NEHAL VYAS, a senior at Duluth High School in Georgia, sheds light on how the last year in school for many teenagers like him around the country can be more about stress than studies and social events.
Personally, I think the South Asian community places too much pressure on high school seniors by saying they have to get into prestigious schools. Sure, Harvard, MIT, and Georgia Tech are very reputable institutions and a graduate will land a decent-paying job. Nevertheless, sometimes a detour in the route to success is not a bad idea.
Senior year—a time of closing your chapter in the school system and getting ready to move on to bigger and better things. That’s the overview most people seem to have, but there is one more factor that is the bane of every senior’s existence: college applications. From getting recommendations by your teachers to racking up on community service hours, applications for college can be quite stressful; it can even take precedence over school work at times.
Speaking from personal experience, I understand the pressure behind the whole process of applications. Rather than talking about the next concert in town or a nice place to hang out, my friends and I spent most of our time exchanging “stats” for our college applications. “Stats” did not just include our GPAs, but our SAT and ACT scores, leadership experiences, community service hours, extracurricular involvement—the list goes on and on. At the time, we didn’t think this was pathetic behavior; it was something very normal to discuss. We could all give each other words of encouragement, such as: “It’s okay if your GPA is low, you have good test scores so you should be fine,” and “You have a lot of leadership positions, so you’re guaranteed to get in.”
We believed that if one factor brought us down, there would be another that would guarantee us admission. But in the midst of all this hoopla, we lost our own identity in the sense that we became numbers rather than people. In this day and age, we are told that everything is a numbers game, so you have to make sure your numbers are the best. However, our society has been so consumed over the idea that numbers are everything that we forget why we are going to college in the first place: to master a body of knowledge. If we just learn for the grade, then that won’t help us retain the material; learning to make ourselves grow as people is what will make us love to learn. The college application process really is a holistic procedure, but the emphasis on numbers has made the process more stressful than it actually is.
Luckily for me, my parents have been very supportive through the admissions process. They provide a lot of guidance on how to make myself stand out more in the competition. The best thing that my parents have told me during all of this is: “It doesn’t matter which school you go to. As long as you earn an education and do well with it, there is nothing more to ask of you.”
Personally, I think the South Asian community places too much pressure on high school seniors by saying they have to get into prestigious schools. Sure, Harvard, MIT, and Georgia Tech are very reputable institutions and a graduate will land a decent-paying job. Nevertheless, sometimes a detour in the route to success is not a bad idea. You will definitely have to work harder and make a lot of sacrifices, but in the end it will be worth it because you earned your admission at a school through a method that will make you appreciate the value of education.
I hope that after all of the hard work I put in towards building a successful high school career that I end up in the college of my choice. However, even if I do not get accepted into the school of my preference, I will not be disappointed because I know better opportunities will come. Just because a goal isn’t met immediately doesn’t mean that your dream is over. You just have to work harder to get where you want to be, and eventually it will all pay off.
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