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College application process promotes prejudice

Courtesy of Andrea Giacomini

Courtesy of Andrea Giacomini


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If I had a dollar for everytime someone asked me “Where are you applying?” I might have enough money to pay for college. And if they had a dollar for every time I declined to state, maybe they could, too.

College apps are a stressful time, but that doesn’t mean we have the right to judge others, make snide remarks about their list of schools, or prod anyone for their SAT scores.

This process is individual, and unique to every person. It is none of our business to ask others what their GPA is or try to calculate their chances of admission.

We have no right to put others down, criticize their plans, or try to impose our opinions on them. That’s not going to help our chances of getting into college. And even if it did, that’s just a basic lack of compassion.

So why do we do it? I suppose it’s to make ourselves feel better, boost our self-esteem, and heighten our confidence. But it comes at the expense of kindness, which is a million times more important than an ACT score.

The stigmas behind certain colleges and the prestigious reputations of others are even more suffocating than the process itself.

There’s this unspoken rule that looms over the heads of many seniors, that attending a stereotypically reputable school places students at a higher caliber than their peers. There’s tremendous pressure to compete, to advance, and to do just about anything to attend a highly ranked university.

But prestige does not always equal perfection. On multiple occasions, I’ve heard students say that a school’s lack of prestige is a major deterrent.

They don’t even bother looking past the acceptance rate to see if maybe that really could be the perfect school for them.

In our society, in our school, and in the corridor conversations, there always seems to be talk of prestige, acclaim, and reputability. Maybe this is the reason so many students feel the need to inflate their egos and boast about their accomplishments.

The entire application process is filled with numbers. Every day hundreds of decimals and percentages fill my brain. Every one of those numbers has a stigma attached to it. Prejudices associated with those number have risen exponentially since seniors began this process.

They say hindsight’s 20/20, but I stand by my belief that my foresight is pretty close to clear. Of course I have no idea how my life, or my peers’ lives, are going to turn out, but I know that I am more than a percentile. I may not be able to erase these social stigmas, but I can choose whether or not they affect me.

High school seniors are at a critical junction in their lives. We are making some of our biggest decisions to date, which inevitably causes anxiety and anguish.

But it is also a time to rejoice and be proud of our achievements. We can look to the future with excitement. The choices we are making about our futures are the right choices. Everyone’s path will be different, and that is okay.

No matter what college, job, or program that we choose, I know that my peers are making those choices for a reason. I look at this period of my life as a time for us to rally together, to unite, and to support one another.

Adulthood is just around the corner, and for some of us, it’s already here. I will choose to encourage my peers, to look past the numbers, and be happy for them, regardless of where their journey takes them.

Yes, college apps are stressful, but we could make this environment a little less so if we chose to celebrate every individual pathway. I constantly feel that this process is out of my control, but the one thing that is in my control is how I treat people.

As spring rolls around and admission decisions are made, it will be immensely important to be kind and supportive. We are about to enter into uncharted territory and encounter challenges we have yet to face.

But the future is so bright and so full of opportunity. We can’t let these stigmas, or our insatiable desire for prestige, get in the way.

Prestige is defined as widespread respect and admiration felt for someone or something. I can say with absolute conviction that I believe each and every post-graduation decision to be prestigious.

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College application process promotes prejudice