Several flyers, posters, and announcements on our campus start with “If you need help with college…” or “Want to impress the college of your dreams?” or “It’s never too early to get started on your college search!” However, students do not need to spend the last years of their childhood building a magnificent college resume. Children start thinking about college as early as middle school and begin to sacrifice their lives to impress admissions officers who will spend, at most, ten minutes deciding whether or not they want the student.
Freshmen in high school, and even sixth graders, are bombarded with messages from teachers telling them to think ahead for their future. College representatives inform prospective students to take their education seriously because during senior year, statistics quite literally become the strongest representations of their intellect and character.
Teachers and administrators want to prepare students for their future, and counselors urge students to join clubs, learn different languages, and stock up on community service hours. Students soon start to believe that they need to do everything they can to emulate something of a super-student. With the vast opportunities available at our school, some students join programs such as Global History of Ideas (GHI) or Global Business and Finance (GBF) just because they think “it will look bad” on their college application if they do not.
Showing some college admission counselors a misrepresentation of one’s character will not help the chance of college acceptances. In fact, a student would have a far better chance by showing colleges who they really are. This seems like a simple enough answer, but most students struggle with it. Most students believe they have to have straight A’s, community service since freshman year, several summer activities that show they didn’t spend two months at home watching television, and leadership roles to demonstrate responsibility.
Students who try to accomplish all of these goals without first asking themselves whether they will enjoy these activities frequently end up exhausted and unhappy with their lives. During this long and grueling process, these students forget who they are, what they really like to do with their free time, and what they are truly passionate about. They forget the foundation of their character and instead become adults who hate their job before even reaching adulthood. Students stop hanging out with friends and even family because they have to go to that one club meeting or that one volunteering event. Where does this student’s childhood go?
Students need to remember if everything they do is motivated by the fear of not getting into college, they will start to lead robotic, mindless, and purposeless lives. Yes, students must try their best in school and it is certainly beneficial to participate in activities, but these should be activities they enjoy doing. Students should take classes they appreciate and become community service volunteers only if they are passionate about it. Plenty of students who accomplish all of these goals are still rejected by multiple colleges; colleges do not want to see super-students, they just want to see you.
Do not be motivated by the desire to impress others. Instead, set a goal to be what you want to be. After all, students will be represented by numbers and words anyway, so one should not let those words be a misrepresentation of one’s character.