It’s not enough. We all recognize the familiar whisper that tells us we have not reached high enough, dreamed deep enough, or become unique enough. It’s a poison in everyone, and one of its favorite vacations is during the months of college admission.
If a child is privileged enough to seriously consider college and traditional enough to chase it, then they feel the heaviest pressure in high school. As Freshmen, they wonder how many honors classes to take, whether they should start joining clubs early to build an impressive resume. Sophomore year introduces the true mania, when kids have more AP classes available and begin stressing about that dreaded junior year. Junior year is too busy for students to think about which college might accept them, because they’re packed with sports, clubs, AP classes, volunteer hours, piano lessons, and a part-time job. Junior year is like rush hour, when everyone realizes college is just around the corner.
And finally, in the summer before and early months of senior year, high schoolers make the choice of where to apply and whether they have any chance of getting in. And still, after years of hard work and breathless ambition, it doesn’t feel like enough. The so-called best schools in the country feed on rejection, because a lower acceptance rate means a more prestigious reputation. So even the kid who has worked past his limits for straight A’s and the girl who took on three sports and five clubs feel like their chances of going to their dream school are slim. They have done plenty. But remember that these poor students are poisoned, sick with belief that a college admissions officer determines their worth.
They can’t possibly be so special if the Ivy Leagues don’t think so. What does it matter that I’ve grown, that I have the chance to explore my interests, that I am a generally good person; if everything I’ve worked for comes to nothing? We’ve hurt each other with unhealthy competition, failing to acknowledge that a good school is not the criteria to becoming brilliant or remarkable. We’ve lied to each other, promising that the best of the best are the smart ones. Forget the artists who don’t want college, the adventurers who aren’t ready for it, the unfortunate one’s who just can’t pay for it. Forever remember the student who made it to the Ivies because he fit into their pretty, perfect puzzle.