“It looks good on a college application” is a phrase that many high school students have probably heard time and time again throughout their academic careers. The Common Application has also made it easier to standardize students.
They are encouraged to join clubs, play sports and assume an “active” role in their community so college admission boards will see them as more favorable candidates.
But what does it truly mean to be favorable? Does it mean that someone is of more worth than someone else?
To answer this question, one must assess the concept of merit. According to college admissions offices, the worthiness of a person is determined primarily by GPA, SAT scores, and extra-curricular activities. But do these qualities encompass the full capability of a person?
While strict academic standards do create a filter of sorts, intelligence is not quantifiable. It is an abstract concept with a certain plasticity that cannot be defined by an “A” or a “B”, or any other alpha numerical representation.
Too many students get caught up in the whole “packing process,” the constant struggle to become the perfect student. They join clubs that they have no interest in simply to create an illusion, a list of accomplishments to put themselves ahead of their peers.
“College applications force you to act like a suck-up, instead of actually doing what you want,” senior Dalton Luffey said.
It seems that many other students also feel the same way about getting into college.
“The applications are impersonal; they only get a look at a single side of you, not the whole picture,” senior Jordan McCarter said.
While colleges do offer essays, personal statements and interviews, not many students truly take advantage of these opportunities to differentiate themselves from everyone else.
While essays give the student an opportunity to give insight into the person behind the application, college admission boards keep getting the same boring topics year after year (“How my mission trip changed me” or “Recovering from an injury”).
Society considers the concept of higher-level education mandatory in order to get a good job. However, college is not for everyone and there are other options.
Instead of going to college immediately after high school, many students work for a year or two to minimize the burden of student loans. If college seems unaffordable, there is nothing wrong with jumping right into the workforce, or even the military.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about six out of every ten high school graduates attend a four-year institution, so there is no need to feel obligated to go.
Students should not feel pressured to follow a path that they do not wish to explore; they should instead be encouraged to create their own.