I’ve resisted the urge to throw my two cents into the blogging community about college and college admissions for a long time. But as the big day of March 30 looms around the corner, I think it’s the right time for me to post.
Most of us have learned by now that the process is random, subjective, and in some cases, seemingly unfair. The article posted yesterday by NPR Morning Edition speaks for itself: Behind the Scenes: How Do You Get Into Amherst?
Unfortunately, in our community, a college acceptance has become synonymous with one’s abilities and potential for success in the future.
And it’s exactly this mindset where we have already gotten ourselves on the wrong foot.
The NPR story sums the college admissions process up quite nicely- some lucky people escape with an acceptance letter in their hand, and most people walk away with nothing. It’s as simple as that.
Now let’s talk selectivity for a minute. Schools like Stanford have a 7% admission rate. That’s tiny as is, but that doesn’t count the 40% of the student body who are accepted based on special circumstances (athletics, legacy, etc.), so the real acceptance rate is closer to 4%. Four percent is insane, considering the size and talent of the applicant pool.
Talent. That’s an interesting word. What makes one applicant better than twenty others? Oh, and here’s the better question to admissions- how do you know? I’ve always wondered what impression people get of me when they read a few sheets of paper, especially when most of those pages are filled with numbers.
There are very few people in this world who truly know me. Heck, I don’t even know if I know myself. So how can an admissions officer really gauge who I am as a person, let alone predict my “potential to be successful?” And what is that even supposed to mean?
So let’s get back to that acceptance/rejection letter we all will receive in the next few days (if we haven’t received one already). What does that speak about us?
I’ve learned through this process to not expect anything. We should be happy for people who get into college because it is an exciting opportunity for each of us in our lives. But we should also be mindful and respectful of the sensitive environment around us, especially when emotions and tensions are running so high.
But the most important thing to remember is that a college admission decision cannot speak for who you are and what you are capable of.
If you are lucky enough to get accepted, congratulations! But a college is not going to map out your destiny. You are the one still living your life, and how much you do and how successful you are is completely up to you. One of my friends put it nicely: “College admissions is not a forced decision. Every acceptance is a different opportunity to succeed and flourish in whatever career path you choose.”
So as we finish out this college admissions process in the next few days, remember that whatever happens, happens. It has no bearing on who you are as a person. You shouldn’t need a validation from some admission committee to confirm how “successful” you are and will be.
My mom always tells me that a “diamond” will shine regardless of where it is found, whether it be in a jewelry shop or on the ground in the dirt. Regardless of where we end up, we will lead successful lives. Have confidence in yourself to know that no matter what, life will be good….
Life will be good. And that’s all that matters :)