Stress of college admission starts too early

Cartoon by Brianna Angel-Moreno

By June Peers

The moment I became a sophomore, my inbox was flooded with emails from universities. The subject of one of the emails I read asked “Weird to be thinking about college already? Nope.” As a freshman, it never occurred to me that I would have to start thinking about college so soon. In fact, I didn’t think I would even have to worry about it until the end of junior year.

I wouldn’t say that these emails were the direct cause of my unhealthy obsession with grades, but they definitely contributed to it. During freshman year, I didn’t stress over a B, as I was under the impression that I could easily get into a UC even with a couple of B’s.

Only when I began taking advanced placement classes in my sophomore year did I realize I had a lot of competition. I learned that my classmates had 4.7 GPAs and 1320 PSAT scores. At that point, it occurred to me that even if I did have a 4.0 GPA and my PSAT score was above average, I had a limited chance of getting into the top UCs. Immediately, I became contemptuous of the B’s I received in freshman year, disregarding the fact that I had put in my best effort at the time. To me, it felt like my best effort wasn’t enough.

Perhaps this is just my inferiority complex talking, but the bar to getting into college has certainly been raised due to the recent phenomenon that everyone should have the opportunity to go to college. According to The Atlantic, “Over the past two decades, the number of applications submitted to colleges has increased by 150%.”

With more students applying now, this only means thousands of students are getting rejected, even if they meet all the university’s requirements. According to the Los Angeles Times, “3,570 students competed for 990 freshmen engineering spots at UC Berkeley and nearly 700 applicants with 4.0s were rejected.”

A 4.0 GPA, which used to be deemed “exceptional” before the introduction of Advanced Placement classes, is now viewed as the bare minimum for the most desired universities. It’s no wonder why many students are disappointed when they receive a B in a class.

Students who want to go to universities such as UCLA or USC are forced to have a straight A mindset throughout their high school career to even be considered for their dream college. As you can imagine, this can result in a lot of undue stress.

Nowadays, we’re all aware that universities are looking for more than just good grades when reviewing applications. Along with taking 4 APs, you must be the president of a club that serves the community, win an award on an academic team, and accumulate hundreds of service hours, etc. There is no room for failure because if you ignore extracurriculars to focus more on homework and studying, then you won’t be viewed as a well-rounded candidate. But if you’re focusing more on extracurriculars and your grades start to slack, then universities will simply believe you don’t have the academic intelligence that their school prides itself on.

“I used to think colleges taking on a holistic approach when determining acceptances would be to my benefit, but now it sounds more like they’re asking for the impossible,” sophomore Yaretzi Montero Ortiz said.

At the end of the day, we must also take into account the many successful people who went to lesser known colleges or no college at all. Graduating from a venerable college does not determine your future career endeavors.

My father once told me, “Though employers ask you what college you graduated from, this is only a very minor factor that is considered.”

College may give you the skills employers are looking for, but ultimately, students need to be self-driven, confident, and reliable. No top university can guarantee that they can instill those qualities into their entire student body.

Author: Plaid Press

Granada Hills Charter High School newspaper