Take Me Or Leave Me

Well,  all my fellow seniors out there, this is it. Unless you have applied to an exceptionally cruel college which will relay your admissions decision after April 1st, this is the week we find out whether we’ve been accepted to all of our schools or not. It’s been an excruciatingly painful wait. Perhaps sharing an anecdote will pass the time.

About two weeks ago, I received an email from The College of New Jersey, one of the schools I applied to. They conveyed their Biology program, which I had applied for, had received so many applications and had become so competitive the acceptance rate would fall under 20%-a big deal, considering the college’s overall acceptance rate is about 40%. The email stated I could still be admitted into the Biology program, but because this was unlikely, they were giving me the chance to apply through a different major.

Excuse me?

Because this is just who I am, I immediately began to freak out. How could I not be accepted to TCNJ, which was one of my lower, back-up schools? How could I ever expect to be accepted to any of my other schools if I was no accepted there (this was before I had received my phenomenal acceptance and financial aid deal from Gettysburg College)?

Luckily I did not irrationally lash out, but rather looked at the facts. Were there any other biological majors offered at TCNJ I would be interested in? Nope. Were there any other majors I would be interested in pursuing? Again, that was  a big no. I have considered English or German as a major, but my first choice has always been biology. Additionally, if I were to be accepted through another major program and find out, maybe a semester through college, I really want to pursue biology, it would be very difficult-perhaps impossible-to switch into the Biology program. I’ve decided it will be much easier to switch out of a science major than to switch into one, and continue to stand by this precept.

So what is a moderately successful adolescent to do?

Absolutely nothing.

Why should I have to change who I am in order to get into a college? Who are they to tell me that I have an “unlikely chance” of squeezing into their Biology Program? I mean, I guess they do have the right, being the admissions department of the college (duh), but the point is why have we (meaning my peers, other high school seniors) spent our entire lives padding our resume’s and studying for classes only to be told we are not good enough?

There is so much pressure on teenagers to make themselves as appealing as possible for colleges, not to mention scholarships or special interdisciplinary or educational programs. You not only require good to exceptional grades, but you need to be dedicated to two or three extracurricular activities at the very least. Oh, you should probably perform community service a few hours a week too, because that’s important. And because we all need money, maybe you should try getting a job, because that looks good on resumes too. If you want to even be competitive at high-level schools, you better have joined a few summer programs related to your intended major, or at least attended one of those phoney (oops, did I say that out loud?) leadership camps.

Needless to say, I am not different from thousands of teenagers every year who follow the prescribed formula to success-an equation that supposedly ends with the same result every single time, acceptance to a top notch college or university. It has taken me this long to realize the ridiculousness of this path.

Consider how many students have “exaggerated” their involvement in certain clubs on their college applications because there’s so much pressure to involved in anything and everything that says “wow, look, he/she/it is a really good student!”. How many students have become involved in an activity they aren’t really enthusiastic about because it looks good on your resume? I’m definitely guilty of the latter.

When it comes down to this point in your high school career-waiting for college acceptance letters-you realize how much of your future rests in the hands of the admissions office. Sure, you could have done A or B differently, applied for this summer program or joined this club. But it really depends on whether they like you or not.

Really? My supposed “entire future” is based on whether or not a few adults think I’m swell?

As aforementioned, it has taken me this long-only about four years, if you only want to count high school-to realize it’s “take me or leave me”. Take me for who I am, or just let me be. My future college choice may be in someone else’s hands, but my future success is entirely dependent on myself. There are so many things I am and will be capable of that I don’t even know about right now. I am not defined by which colleges I am accepted to attend; if they do not want me, well, that’s their loss. They will either take me or leave me.

And I’ve finally come to terms with that.

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