The College Condundrum


For many high school seniors, now is the time of the year when they feel like the weight of the world is on their shoulders. Colleges are releasing letters of acceptance and, of course, letters of rejection, leaving many either in a state of euphoria or lost in shambles. At times it can feel like one’s academic career is dependent on a stellar GPA, good SAT scores, and a flawless letter of recommendation.

 Personally, I’m struggling with the seemingly eternal anticipation to hear from the colleges I’ve applied to. My email is my most used app and I quaver at the sight of a USPS truck. The polarization between the people who were accepted into their dream school and those who didn’t make it into their safety schools expresses itself in a myriad of ways, though it can take particular strain on maintaining friendships and academic standing. 

It’s paramount during times of stress to exercise sensitivity towards those who faced rejection and heartfelt congratulations for those who have achieved their dream. Until a couple of weeks ago I often failed to discern between whole-hearted exultation and bragging. Listening to friends talk about their triumphs and tribulations throughout the college application process was relatable, though when the time came for final decisions from colleges I was unnerved. 

Finding myself overwhelmed with conflicting feelings of vicarious happiness and serious FOMO, I decided to turn inwards. Why can’t I be happy for my friends? How are the kids I’ve grown up with getting accepted into Ivy League schools?

As much as I dislike the trite expression “live in the moment”, now is the time when many high school seniors have to accept the past and move forward with more conviction than ever, or face the possibility of falling into the trap of self pity and regret. What happened freshman year should have no impact on how colleges judge you, though the first two years of high school are often a make or break factor in being accepted to college. Sure, it’s important to demonstrate motivation and productive study habits throughout high school, but there’s so many extraneous factors to consider when looking at one’s grades. Be it social, environmental, or neurological problems, everyone is subject to some form of suffering, though many colleges seem to look at just one outcome- did they maintain competitive grades or intellectually withdraw from school?

What’s important to remember is how you’ve matured and built the framework of your conscience. Whether you’re pursuing a career in pokemon card collecting or neurosurgery, the revelations from a lifetime of nearly 20 years will carry far more weight in navigating the stormy waters of life than a 3.9 GPA.