The Strenuous College Process

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There is no doubt that the college application process is confusing and emotional. Not only is it extremely difficult to discover what and where you want to study, but you also have to complete a lengthy application and write essays in hopes of being admitted. This is all occurring at a time where you are still at school, studying hard, dealing with friends, family, and extracurriculars just to name a few. Pressure is coming at you from all directions, be it from your parents or yourself. Nonetheless, most of this pressure comes from your peers.

Students in the midst of this process constantly get tips of advice like, “Don’t compare yourself to others” and “Focus on what you want to do”, but we all know that these pieces of advice are much easier said than done. I don’t know a single person that hasn’t been at least a little interested in where someone else has visited or applied to.

Additionally, students in higher income families and students who attend private schools often feel as if they have to apply to more prestigious schools. Whether it’s the Ivies or other nationally ranked institutions, these students often feel a moral obligation to at least apply, even if it’s not where they want to go. The admissions process therefore becomes a name game, encouraging students to apply to the more selective schools as opposed to going to a lesser known school or a school with a higher acceptance rate. Decades ago, high school students would apply to a handful of schools that really mattered to them. Nowadays, it is not uncommon to see students applying to over a dozen schools just in hopes of being accepted and post pointless YouTube videos on where they got in.

Students often lose sight of what’s really important in this process: applying to the schools that will give them the best well-rounded education. College isn’t about going to an institution for four years just to say that you did. It’s about discovering who you are and what you are passionate about. We are living in a time where a college degree is considered vital for success in life, whatever success means. Attending an institution solely because of peer pressure will make four of what many people consider the most important years of your life very difficult.

About the author

Gunnar Vachris is a VI Form Boarding Student from Southborough Massachusetts. He has a deep passion for sports, classic rock, and Yodels. As a Head Admissions Prefect, Special Olympics Volunteer, and former Peer Discussion Leader, Gunnar enjoys working with people and educating them about the elements of St. Mark’s School. He strives to lead a life of leadership and service, hoping to positively impact the people around him.

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